Pregnant Pause

#10 of 31 posts in 31 days

The last two weeks I have had the honor of working with a few expectant mothers.  Two are somewhere in the middle of their terms and two are in the very last days of pregnancy.  Excitement overcomes me as I work on these women.  In a very short time each will get to meet her sweet baby.

I am truly honored to be able to work with  them.  Lower back pain, shoulder pain, and headaches seem to be their main issues.  Sometimes we talk and sometimes I work in silence, but there always seems to be an essence in the room with us.  It’s like there is a big ball of “something”, maybe it is the nervous energy?  The anticipation?  There are so many emotions sharing a body with the mother and baby.   Excitement, joy, impatience, longing, happiness, worry, fear, exhaustion, and probably a million more feelings are experienced in any given moment.   I try to make my place a safe place for all of these feelings.  Sometimes we don’t want everyone to know that we might be worried about labor and delivery.   We might not want everyone to think we look weak or small.  After all, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time.”  When I hear of someone telling one of my mothers this I like to comfort them, but sometimes I just don’t know what to say.  I tell them that, yes, women have been having babies since the beginning of time. Yes, our body was made for this.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t scary. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel worried about things.

In the Comfort Zone there is room for worry.  I provide quiet support.  In The Comfort Zone there are tissues for tears.  I buy the good kind with lotion on them.  I provide quiet support.  In The Comfort Zone I get to hear the questions that you don’t want to ask anyone else.  I listen intently and give down-to-Earth answers.  More so there are conversations about after the baby is born.  “I can’t wait to hold her!”  “We have her crib in our room so she will be close to us!”  “Our friends have given us so many diapers!”  “Does the poop really stink that bad?” “I hope she sleeps well.”

You may be as happy as you can be, or as scared as you don’t want to be, I will lay my hands on your back and shoulders.  I will comfort you.  I will let you be ‘you’ for a little while.  And we’ll laugh, I promise!  You may even fall asleep for a little while!

Musical Magic

#7 in the 31 posts in 31 days.

Music is essential in my massage therapy room.  I simply cannot administer a fantastic massage without music.  (I think I probably could, I just don’t like it.)  I use the typical “spa” music.  The melodies are quite enchanting 🙂

When I receive a massage I like the music that contains ocean waves in between the songs.  And rain sounds, a gentle thunderstorm. Lately I have been so focused on growing my business, improving customer service, and thinking of new ways to make my sessions better that I have neglected to grow my music library.  I hear the same music all day long.

I would like to add to my music library, but I would LOVE to have your input.  You.  The people who spend time in my therapy room. You pay money to be there, what would you like to hear?  I have grand ideas of a vast music selection and giving you, the clients, a choice. “Would you like to listen to Bob Marley today?”  “Your Rainforest Thunderstorm sounds are queued up just for you!”  Maybe the sounds of Jimmy Buffet get you dreaming about the beach?  Does that make sense?

I guess what I’m asking is  What kind of sounds or music would you like to hear while receiving massage?  After 9 years of spa music, I’m up for suggestions.  I would listen to something different every time!  I want each massage session to the best one you have ever had.  If I can change the music, I will.  If I can give you options, I want to.  If you want spa music and nature sounds, perfect, I’ll go shopping.  🙂

I’ve used spa music for so long that I assumed that was the only thing I could use.  I read an article the other day about a spa somewhere advertising rock and roll music.   Hey, if it’s your favorite, why not?

Help me out here!  Tell me what you like to hear during a massage.  Let me improve your experience if it isn’t just what you want!

PS.  My Massage Therapist/Blogger/Advice-Giver/Friend Allissa told me about a website that rewards you with a picture of a cute kitten for every 100 words you write.  I.Love.It.  WrittenKitten.net full of some cuteness! I draft my blog posts there now.  And my gratitude journal.

My Down Time

This is #6 of 31 posts in 31 days.

It’s Monday!  Most of the time that means that it’s my day off work. Which, of course, translates into banking, paperwork, writing, reading, laundry, housework, business-work, and all things mom-related.  Some days are busier than others.  Often, my Mondays are devoted to business-building or financial work.  Nevertheless, I usually end up doing laundry. (Will it ever end?!)

Since school is still on summer break my Mondays have actually been “true” days “off work.”  All three of us are home!  Today, I have spent my day off mostly in my pajamas!  (I’ve had a shower and been to town, I just changed back to be comfy.)  My five-year-old has pretty much led our day in pretend play.  I love it!  My brain has been needing a little break and following her lead is fun way to accomplish that!

So far today I have taken my pretend-kitty to the pretend-vet, watched Olympic diving, read a library book, danced around the living room, and I *may* have unveiled my old Karate Gi and practiced a little Gung Fu with my daughter.  It’s quite liberating to dance like a crazy lady and then giggle uncontrollably!

Do you ever get days off?  How do you like to spend your down time?  I plan on enjoying the rest of the day/evening with my daughter. What might we do, you ask?  Supper, coloring books, puzzles, massages, and reading.  And whatever else she might dream up!

Down time is important.  It isn’t always easy to find it, but if you can schedule it or discover it by accident, you should enjoy it.  Take advantage, even if it’s only 10 minutes.  Recharging your batteries often is a lot better than crashing and burning!

PS. Downtime is my specialty!  Visit www.thecomfortzonemassage.com to see the different ways you can relax with massage 🙂

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!

Love and Hugs

#4 of 31 posts in 31 days

I am a massage therapist.  I talk A LOT about massage every day.  I think about it, I read about it,  I talk about it, I practice it.  I touch people.  Healthy, nurturing touch, in my opinion, is one of the most essential basic needs that humans must have to thrive.  Tiny babies come into the world needing to be held, needing to be touched, needing to be nurtured and fed.  Nature’s way of feeding babies involves skin-to-skin contact.  We want to hug and snuggle our toddlers and small children.  We wish our teenagers would hug us more often.  We wish our hugs could fix our teenager’s “problems”.  When we fall in love we lavish attention upon each other.   Couples hold hands, hug, kiss, sit arm-in-arm, and sleep close together.

We crave healthy touch.  We need to feel loved, secure, happy, and not alone.  I am attending a wedding today.  The bride and groom are well past seventy years of age.  Each has been married before.  The groom was married for more than 50 years to the same woman. He cared for her when she was sick.  From what I understand he never left her side, except for work.  They lived a happy, committed married life.  The bride started a life and family with her first husband, only to lose him to cancer at the young age of 38.  She worked, raised children and cared for him when he was sick.  She went on to marry again.  They were married for 29 years, committed and devoted to each other.  He suffered poor health and she never left his side.  She loved and cared for him, as his wife and care-giver.

I am honored to attend this union.  I enjoy seeing the hand-holding, the hugs, and the smiles.  I’ve heard laughing that I haven’t heard in a while.  I see joy.  I see the human connection that we all crave, need and deserve.  I am happy to know that these two people will not have to spend another night alone, wishing for a hand to hold, or searching for a kiss good-night.  Their lives will be enhanced by companionship, their sorrow soothed with hugs, and their future filled with laughter and joy.

As I think about these two people and the benefits of healthy, nurturing touch added to their lives, I look to my own life.  I think I will give my 5-year-old some extra hugs, and hold my husband’s hand while we watch TV.

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!

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 

The Great Divide

There seems to be a great divide in the world of massage therapy.  Relaxation massage vs. therapeutic massage.  Is there a difference?  Is one more important than the other?  Is one BETTER than the other?  I spend quite a bit of my time reading discussions, debates, and comments about massage therapy by massage therapists.  We, the Therapists, seem to be entrenched in an epic battle trying to decide which is the better massage.  I don’t participate much in the dialogue, but I read every word that I can find.  (Often these discussions are what lead me to learn things about new research, good policies, business advice, etc.)

The terms differ a little but the sentiment is the same: “My massage is better than your massage and anyone who chooses to do something different is somehow inferior.”  To be fair, no one is really saying these specific words, but the tone is ever-present.  When did this divide occur?  Why is a relaxing massage not as good as “medical” massage?  Why can’t a “relaxation” massage be a “therapeutic” massage?

Massage therapy is used in many settings including, but not limited to spas, beauty salons, stand-alone places, chiropractor’s offices, doctor’s offices, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, dentist offices, and others.  All of these are different working environments with different training requirements and expectations.  But they are all administering massage therapy.  It seems that the people who are working in contrasting environments are trying to tear down the other.  I’ve seen comments from either side, as well as the middle.

I say, “Why can’t ALL massage be considered good therapy?”  

My massage style is a manifestation of both “medical”* massage and “relaxation”** massage.  I work in a salon and I don’t file insurance.  I give one-hour, ninety-minute, and hot stone massage.  My massage sessions are tailored to what the client needs that day.  I have some clients who want to “check out” for an hour, relax, revive, and feel good.  These are people who come in on a regular basis, some with pain issues, some without.  We talk about what they need that day, I turn on the music, they lay down and I give an awesome massage.  (They tell me it is awesome, so I’m taking their word for it!)

I also have people who are in pain.  They have an injury, a condition, or chronic pain that massage therapy can help.  I use different techniques, I focus on the painful areas, and put all my effort in to pain relief.  I have become really good at using relaxation techniques followed by muscle specific work to relieve pain while (gasp) simultaneously relaxing the person.  Bam.  The best of both worlds.

I think that relaxation massage IS therapeutic.  There is a lot of talk about the effects of stress on the body.  We Therapists are always talking about stress relief, lowering blood pressure, getting rid of headaches, relieving stress-induced muscle tension, and improving lives.  There are tons of articles circulating talking about all the health problems resulting from stress.  So WHY is a stress-reliving, relaxing massage not considered therapeutic by some?  A relaxing massage contributes to stress relief.  Stress symptoms can go away. Health problems that result from  excessive stress could improve.  Sounds therapeutic to me.

My clients don’t seem to have a problem with my location or massage style.  They know that if they always get general massage but one day have an injury or issue that I can change what I do to address the problem.  What is so wrong with that?

I don’t think one is better than the other.  I also don’t think that any style is more important than any other style.  It’s what is important to the client on the table.  That is the most important, the best.

Why can’t both be the “best?”  Aren’t we all just trying to help people?

* I am calling general massage relaxation massage, also known as Swedish massage.

** I am considering medical massage to be the people who self-describe themselves as that.  They may work in a hospital, or with doctors.  Often not in a spa or salon.

What do you think?

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.