I’ve Moved!

I’ve launched a new website, yay! I’ve moved the content of this blog over to the new and improved website. All new posts will be available to read there. Come for a visit!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

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Frequently Un-asked Questions Part 2

I started a conversation in the last post about frequently unasked questions and massage sessions. Massage therapy isn’t scary but since massage on TV or in the movies isn’t exactly portrayed accurately there are many people who have questions. Sometimes questions can seem embarrassing. Years of experience has taught me people are afraid to ask. And if they are afraid to ask then they are afraid to schedule. We therapists write and talk about symptoms day in and day out, but sometimes neglect the “other” questions. Questions like, “Will you see me naked?” I hope I can help answer a few of these questions in these two blog posts.

What should I wear to my massage? 

I actually hear this a lot. What he/she really means is, “Do I have to get naked?!” Or, “Will you see me naked?!”
You may wear what clothes you are comfortable wearing. You are NOT required to get naked for your massage. You may undress to your comfort level. What, exactly, does that mean? If you want to leave on your underwear you should. If you want to bring shorts to change into you should. If you don’t want to remove your socks you should leave them on your feet. If you prefer to be nude that’s OK. You’ll be covered by the sheet and blanket.

The following is what I say to people who are about to get a massage: “I’m going to step out. You undress to your comfort level. Put your things here, lie down and cover up!” (I reach over and pull the sheet and blanket back.) Some people take everything off, others leave on underwear. A few people don’t take any clothes off.

You will be covered with a sheet and blanket at all times. Only the area being worked will be uncovered. Only the back will be uncovered while working there, one leg at a time, one arm at a time, etc.  I use sheets and blankets as the drape not towels like on TV. Your private areas will never be exposed!

Am I too fat to get a massage? 

You are not too fat to get a massage. I repeat, you are not too fat to get a massage.  People don’t actually ask this question, but they drop hints. They make jokes about themselves (not funny ones.) Sometimes someone will say, “I can’t get a massage, I’m too fat.” This breaks my heart! You aren’t too fat. You are muscles and bones and blood and nerves and skin. I’ve talked a little about this in another post. You can check it out here if you want. I’ve been a massage therapist for almost 10 years. After thousands of hours of massage I can honestly tell you that every body is different. I have clients of all ages and sizes. I don’t “look at your fat” I feel of your muscles with my hands. My massage table has a working weight of 450 pounds. You are awesome and should be able to feel the awesomeness of massage. Just tell me your concerns and we will work together to make sure you are comfortable.

When should I NOT get a massage?

If you have fever you should stay home. If you have the flu or flu-like symptoms I beg you to reschedule. A few more reasons to reschedule your massage are vomiting, itchy rash, virus, contagious conditions, poison ivy/oak, surgery, stitches, open sores or if your doctor advises against massage. If you are not sure call me, we will decide together.

Did I leave anything out? 

Is there something else you’d like to know? If you have a burning question please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

‘Tis the Season

13 Shopping days until Christmas. DON’T PANIC! You’re freaking out, aren’t you? You can stop, it’s OK.

In fact, that’s what this post is all about – stopping for a bit. How many times have you been shopping this month? Are you finished? Do you really want to go again? What about the laundry? Did you get all your decorations out? Did you remember that you are supposed to provide 8472 cupcakes for the class party? Party? Did I say party? How many Christmas parties are on your list to cook for/buy for? Do you REALLY want to go?

No, you aren’t having a nightmare. This is happening all over the country right this minute. People are scrambling around town rushing from party to party, store to store dragging their Holiday Spirit through the mud. Stress levels are climbing while bank accounts are shrinking. There’s no end in sight!

Or is there………

Take. A. Break. I give you permission. This is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness. If you aren’t feeling joy then what’s the point? You don’t really have to go to every single party to which you have been invited. Really! I mean it! You can skip one and still be loved and wonderful.

Shut the computer, gather up your family/friends and watch your favorite holiday movie. Maybe it’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Or National Lampoon’s may be more your style. Chill out and laugh till you pee or cry like a baby. There are plenty of movies to cover both of these options.

My tree

My tree

Soak in the tub for a while by candlelight. Yes, I went there. I know everyone always says, “soak in a bath” when suggesting ways to relax, but it works. Even if a bath isn’t your favorite way to unwind you can lock the door and be alone for a bit. Bring some music and reading material and set the timer. Relax and recharge. You deserve it. And there is so much more to do.

Turn off the TV and enjoy your decorations. We have the tree up and I love it! Take a moment before you leave for the day or when you get home and just gaze at the tree. Go look at the ornaments. Do you remember where they came from? So simple, but guaranteed to make you smile. And smiling is so awesome.

Can’t chill out at home? Too many people there? Too many things on your to-do list? Visit me. When you get to The Comfort Zone Massage you can drop your tension just outside the door, lie down on the heated massage table, take a few deep lavender breaths and just be you for an hour or so. After a great massage you’ll have the energy to clean off your Holiday Spirit and the spunk to hold it high.

What is your favorite Holiday activity? What is your LEAST favorite? Please share! I love the anticipation of opening gifts and I LOVE Christmas lights. I don’t love stressing about time.

PS I almost forgot! You can buy Massage Gift Certificates online! Click here and print them yourself. Easy. Secure. Local.

Massage and Lower Back Pain

Chronic back pain can cause you to miss out on life.  Maybe you’ve missed work a few times.  You choose weekends on the couch instead of a weekend out doing fun stuff.   If it hurts badly enough you might even go to the doctor (repeatedly).  Pain in the lower back is one of the top reasons people go to the doctor.    A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in July 2011 found that massage therapy was better than “usual care” at relieving lower back pain.   Funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, the study’s lead author was Daniel Cherkin, Director of Group Health Research Institute. Could massage therapy help relieve your lower back pain?

The study consisted of 401 patients who were mostly middle-aged females all of whom had chronic low back pain.  The participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 treatment groups:  full body relaxation massage, targeted deep tissue massage, and usual care, defined as medication and physical therapy.  The participants assigned to either massage group each received a one hour massage once a week for ten weeks.   After ten weeks the results were surprising.  Nearly 2/3 of the people who received either type of massage said their back pain was significantly improved or gone.  Only about 1/3 of the “usual care” patients experienced the same type of relief.   Some of the participants in the massage groups even reported improved symptoms up to 6 months later!

The study authors expected to prove that deep tissue, or structural massage would work better for the back pain than relaxation massage, but they discovered that BOTH types of massage are equally effective in relieving lower back pain symptoms.  It didn’t matter which type of massage was received, the symptoms either improved or went away!

Massage therapy can be a gentle, natural alternative to muscle relaxants and pain medications.  Wouldn’t it be great to feel better without taking a bunch of pills?  It is wise to visit a doctor with lower back pain symptoms to rule out certain spinal injuries or abnormalities.  If the pain is musculoskeletal, then massage therapy could be a great way to get moving again.

What helps with your lower back pain? Exercise, rest, massage, medications, or something else? Please share in the comments. Need an appointment? Visit my website! www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

What is Fibromyalgia? Part 1

What is Fibromyalgia?

To the person who suffers it is pain. The kind of pain that keeps you in bed. Pain that never seems to go away. Pain that controls your life. Pain that no one seems to understand.

To the doctor  whom the patient sees it is a challenge. It is an enigma,  an ever-changing target.

To the loved ones of the afflicted it is a worry, a concern, a wish to make things better.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia:  is a neurosensory disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. The condition is chronic (ongoing), but pain comes and goes and moves about the body. The disorder is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized and is and often complicated by mood and anxiety disorders. (found here)

So, really, what IS Fibromyalgia? We can say that it is chronic pain. We can read that the pain moves to different areas of the body. We can hear our loved one say that they cannot get out of bed some days. We hear them but do we understand? Do we really see?

I work with a few people who live with Fibromyalgia. It is SO completely different in each person that I find it hard to define. I read a book once who called it “The Thief.” (I cannot remember the name of the book, sorry.) This woman called Fibromyalgia “The Thief” because is was stealing her life. Day by day. Moment by moment. Pain. Pain that doesn’t go away. It just becomes tolerable.

I’ve worked with clients whose doctors told them that their pain wasn’t real. They were told to “get over it,” and “we can’t find anything wrong with you, but you’re depressed.” They were given pills and sent home feeling defeated and crazy.

But you don’t need to feel crazy because Fibromyalgia is real. And it hurts. And you very well may be depressed.

I’ve also seen clients whose doctors were amazingly empathetic. The doctors worked with them to try to find solutions for the pain – pain meds, physical therapy, antidepressants, massage therapy, spiritual therapy, and counseling.  Even if the pain didn’t go away the patient had the confidence that comes with being heard and believed.

The next post, maybe two, I will explore in more detail this “Thief” named Fibroyalgia.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com for more information about the type of Massage Therapy I offer.

Q and A Health History Form Edition

Why do I need to fill out a health history form?

Many of you have received a professional massage. Many of you have been receiving professional massage for years. And many of you have looked at me sideways when I’ve asked you to fill out a health history form. If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it one hundred times:

“Why do I need to fill this out?” “I’m just here for a massage, do I really need to answer all of these questions?”

Your safety is my number one concern. Your health and well-being are very important to me. I need a little honesty. There are certain health conditions in which massage could be harmful to you. There are certain medications that don’t mix well with massage therapy. My first priority is to “do no harm.” Here are a few of the questions and why I ask them.

Phone Number- If we have an appointment scheduled and something urgent comes up that I need to reschedule I would need to call you.  (I almost NEVER do this.) If you leave a piece of jewelry in the treatment room I would need to call you. I don’t call you to sell you anything. I don’t call you to chat. I don’t text you to advertise. I ask for your phone number “just in case.”

Birthdate- No pressure here. I like to send birthday cards.

“Are you under medical supervision?” This could mean a million different things. Is it necessary for you to see your doctor more than once a year? Do you have a medical condition that requires testing and medication? Answer that here.

“Do you see a chiropractor?” Massage therapy and chiropractic can work well together. Knowing what issues you see a chiropractor for will help me plan your massage treatments.

Medications-  Blood thinners could be dangerous. Narcotic pain medications are a no-no just before a massage. Statins have side-effects that can be painful. The list goes on. Please be honest. If you take medicine for depression but don’t want anyone to know, they won’t hear it from me. Everything on this form is confidential. Everything. (PS massage is good for people suffering from depression.)

I ask your occupation so that I can try to “see” what you do with your mind and body each day. Knowing how you use your body day in and day out could help plan your massage treatments. It could also explain mystery aches and pains. Knowledge is power, or so I’ve heard. 😉

This bears repeating: EVERYTHING ON THIS FORM IS CONFIDENTIAL. I don’t share information. I don’t sell information. I just try to give the best massage I can for each person, each situation, each and every day.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com click Schedule Appointment 🙂

Backpack = Back Pain?

My husband is a full time college student. (Proud of you!) I have often wondered why we needed to buy a new backpack every year. That is, until I attempted to haul his backpack in from the car one day! Oh, man that thing is HEAVY! Seriously! This picture shows 6 inches of books and notebooks. I think it weighs around 10 lbs. Some days there is also a laptop shoved in there somewhere. Whew! There is no way I could haul carry that around every day!

What about you? Are you a student? A parent of a student? Have you seen how a person has to walk in order to carry their books and school supplies around? Every time I see a young person slumped over by the weight of their books I want to scream! Actually, I want to run over to them, remove the pack, attach some wheels to the bottom and rub their neck and shoulders. I would probably get in trouble for that, so I am bringing it up here.

People as young as 12 are burdened by heavy backpacks. Watch your child tomorrow. Do you notice his shoulders pulled forward a bit? Is her neck bent down toward her chest? Do you hear his feet slide more than step? Do you hear a grunt or a sigh when she drops her pack to the floor? These are signs of a pack that is too heavy to carry!

If a body is strained in this way every day many symptoms may emerge. The shoulders rolled forward could cause a more shallow breath intake. Shoulder pain is almost guaranteed. The neck pulling forward and trying to support extra weight can likely cause headaches.  All of this could cause headaches, muscle tension, back pain, fatigue, and irritability. Do you really want another something to cause irritability?

Check with your child’s school. Can your child carry a backpack with wheels? She could pull the bag behind her like a suitcase. Offer to give him/her a neck and shoulder rub. Encourage him/her to switch sides often, or try to lighten the load a bit.

I could give you a demonstration of a neck and shoulder massage the next time you get a massage. Or you can both visit and we can work together to alleviate the pain and discomfort. The Comfort Zone Massage is located just outside Paris, AR inside Shirley’s Beauty Shop. (Where the old skating rink was.)

Pregnancy Massage

#27 of 31 posts in 31 days

Pregnancy massage is an awesome pain and stress reliever through all stages of most low-risk pregnancies. So many changes occur in the body during pregnancy and many of them bring aches and pains. If not aches and pains then emotional ups and downs. Regular massage throughout pregnancy can help with all of these discomforts.

Weight gain is essential in every pregnancy because the body is nurturing a growing baby.The growth of the baby on the front side of the body often causes the mother to change how she stands and walks. It can become downright painful!

Lower back pain, shoulder pain, fatigue, headaches, emotional stress, and anxiety are all things that a pregnant woman can experience. (Sometimes all at once!) Massage therapy can bring comfort to the expectant mother by relieving some of the pain, reducing anxiety and providing support.  It can also help prepare the mother for labor and delivery.

I usually ask the mother to get her doctor’s permission to receive bodywork. I am open to following special instructions or restrictions. I am here to help any way that I can. High risk pregnancies require the Doctor’s approval.

Reasons NOT to get a massage while pregnant:

High Blood Pressure

Uncontrolled Diabetes

Excessive Swelling

Risks of Blood Clots

Pregnancy Massage is offered in Paris, AR at The Comfort Zone Massage. My office is located inside Shirley’s Beauty Shop. If you have any questions about pregnancy massage ask your doctor and give me a call. My contact information is on my website www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

I use the Oakworks Side-lying Positioning System. It is a collection of bolsters to support the pregnant woman in the side-lying position. There is excellent support for the head, rib-cage, baby-belly, and legs. I also add pillows for specific comfort. Safety is my number one goal!

Rub My Feet!

#26 of 31 posts in 31 days

“I wish you could massage my feet every day when I get off work!”

“Oh, could you rub my feet every night?”

“I stand ALL day and my feet are so tired when I get home.”

“Could you spend extra time massaging my feet?”

“PLEASE teach my husband (wife, boyfriend, girlfriend) how to touch my feet like that!”

foot massage

I hear all of these things almost every single day. Let’s face it, a great foot massage feels awesome. Psst… they’re good for you, too! Foot problems could contribute to back pain, knee pain, irritability and bad moods.

Massaging the feet helps to relax the whole body. I see it every day.  A tense, stressed out person comes in for a massage. I spend time on the back and legs. After we’ve settled in to the massage I put hot compresses on the feet. Groaning follows 😉

Each foot gets compressed, stretched, kneaded, rocked, pulled and pushed. Slowly. Deeply. Thoroughly. Sound good to you? I thought so.

Foot massage calms breathing, relaxes the body, allows the mind to calm, helps with knee pain, and relieves some headaches. Plus, it just feels great. I include a foot massage in most 60 minute massage sessions. You can ask for extra time there or you could even schedule a foot-only massage. If you want a 20 minute foot rub with hot towels and aromatherapy, I can do that. If you want 40 minutes on the body and 20 minutes on the feet, I can do that.

PS You can also schedule online on my website. Phone calls are welcome, too 🙂

Shoulders Hurt Around Here

#23 of 31 posts in 31 days

I work on shoulders. What I mean is, I have a lot of people who see me for shoulder pain. Shoulder pain and neck pain are, by far, the #1 reasons people see me for massage therapy.

Why do so many sets of shoulders hurt? Many, many reasons. Several clients work on a computer all day long. I call you guys and gals Desk Warriors. You work hard all day long. Your responsibilities are great and your expectations are high. You hold your arms half-way up for hours on end. The monitor for your computer lures your head forward day in and day out. Phone calls keep your head tilted and your shoulders shrugged. Crap, my neck hurts just describing what you do all day! My neck literally pulled forward and tightened a little bit just because I was imagining the movements. Wow! No wonder your shoulders hurt! I feel your pain!

Other shoulders and necks hurt from other kinds of jobs. Factory work is hard work, too. Maybe you sit or maybe you stand. Either way you more than likely repeat the same sequence of movements all day long. Do you reach and pull a lot? Maybe twist your hands all day long? Hour after hour of twisting your arms and bending your wrists can make you hurt.

Is there anything you can do to ease the pain a bit? Why, yes, there IS something you can do! Actually, there are several things you may try.

Change up your movements whenever you get a chance. If you are in one position for long periods of time try setting a timer to stop for 1 or 2 minutes. Stand up, move around, move your neck and shoulders, stretch and walk. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, it can help if you are able to do it several times a day.

On your scheduled breaks move a lot. Stretch and walk, stretch and walk. Give yourself a head and neck massage. Give yourself one of these every day! They can help manage the symptoms in between your professional massage sessions.

If it’s been a while since your last massage and you are wearing your shoulders as earrings, go over to my website and schedule an appointment ASAP! The Comfort Zone is just around the corner!

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