Relaxation Massage and Deep Tissue: What’s the difference?

“What’s the difference between Swedish/Relaxation Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?” This is a very frequently asked question. The short answer: Each massage therapist has a different way of doing and explaining deep tissue massage.

My answer:

The “Deep Tissue” part has always confused me. When I first became a massage therapist deep tissue was all about the pressure. Dig in until it hurts and she’s squealing for me to stop. And then dig a little deeper. I never really liked that approach to pain relief. I also hadn’t taken very many continuing education classes or talked to experienced therapists to get the real story about deep tissue. This type of “push as hard as you can” massage was very painful to my hands. I was also not very good at it. After a while I just told people “I don’t do deep tissue. I take a more gentle approach.” This didn’t really do much for me, either, since people in pain don’t really understand a gentle approach, either.

And then I figured it out. For me.

In my massage practice deep tissue doesn’t necessarily mean deep pressure. If you schedule a deep tissue massage for 60 minutes and your focus area is your neck/shoulders it’s possible to get the full hour of work on your upper body. You can also get focused deep tissue work on your shoulders and neck combined with relaxation massage on the rest of your body. This is totally the best way to go. Relaxation is very important to prepare the muscles to be vigorously worked.

I always begin and end with relaxation massage. 

Neck massage

Neck massage

Your muscles are tight and in pain. You want relief. If I were to dig my elbow into your upper traps in the first 5 minutes your muscles would knot up and spasm, it wouldn’t feel good and you’d probably fire me! Instead I start with long slow strokes. I introduce myself to your muscle tissues. I prepare them. They are tense and fully engaged. They need to be coaxed into relaxing a bit before I can get deeper. Hot compresses applied to the muscles help loosen their grip on your bones and allow my hands to massage more fluidly with less pain. Will there be moments of discomfort? Maybe if I release a trigger point. Will I dig in as hard as I can go? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I will move your arms to shorten/lengthen muscle groups. I will use different techniques to release muscle knots and spasms. (Trigger point release, Neuromuscular Technique, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Stretching and others.)

My goal is to administer the deep tissue techniques in a way that your body reacts as though I am using relaxation. I don’t want your muscles fighting back. I don’t want you holding your breath with your fists balled up. That is not helpful to your muscles or your mind. You should feel relaxed AND well-worked. You shouldn’t leave a massage in more pain than when you arrived. If you do then we need to talk about it so we can make changes to your treatment.

So which massage would you like to try? Swedish/Relaxation or Deep Tissue?

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

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Running, Beginners and Injury Prevention

2013 rolled in with sparkle and shine, champagne and fireworks!  Many folks make New Year’s Resolutions with the intention of improving their lives, fattening their wallets or losing weight.  If you’re one who started exercising or running, how are you doing? One mistake people make is doing too much too soon. Over-doing it can cause pain and injuries to your whole body.  One common misconception is “no pain, no gain.” While muscle soreness is common with running and exercise, excruciating pain is a sign that something is wrong.

People who start running regularly after not exercising at all need to prepare their bodies for movement. It’s great to want to get out there and sprint a mile your first 3 days! But you increase your chances of injury and the pain you feel will probably discourage you from continuing to run. If you have never been a runner before do some research for beginners. If you know a fitness expert or personal trainer who specializes in running, make an appointment or send them an e-mail asking the best way to start. Talk with your physician or health care provider to make sure running is the right exercise for you. Wouldn’t it be awesome to set goals with your doctor?!

If you don’t know a trainer there are also many online programs to help you get started. There are a few versions of Couch to 5K available, just Google “Couch to 5K.” These programs or applications map out a training regimen to get you started, gain momentum, and then complete a certain amount of miles. These apps are an awesome way to “check off” your progress.  Most importantly, they help you to get started! The first step is the hardest.

Injury prevention should be a priority while running. Of course, speed or distance is what you focus on, but preventing serious injury is important.  If you are following a training schedule for a race, then follow it. Rest periods are just as important as run days. Short days are short for a reason. Long days are tough but rewarding.  Eat, drink and sleep the proper amounts to make sure your body has the fuel it needs to keep moving.  Rest days are good for other things like yoga, an exercise class, massage, weight training, or absolutely nothing.

Good running shoes are a must! Try on several, research them in magazines and on the internet. The right shoes can help prevent leg pain, lower back pain, and even foot pain.

It’s only the first month of 2013 and you’re doing great! Pay attention to your body, follow your training schedule and keep going into February. You can do it!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

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.

How To Survive Black Friday

How To Survive Black Friday:       STAY HOME!

Just kidding 😉

1. SMALL PURSE  You know that gorgeous bag that holds your iPad, phone, two diapers, wipes, wallet, lip balm, make-up, deodorant, and half your junk drawer? You’re going to want to leave that at home. Find a small purse that you can drape across your body. You should only need some cash, cards, and identification. And maybe a coupon. Your shoulders don’t want to lug around all of your possessions! It hurts!

2. SHOES Wear sneakers. Sure, those knee-high boots will look cute with those new jeans but if you plan on walking, standing, and driving for the next 12 hours I recommend a nice comfy shoe. Your legs and back will thank you the next day.

3. ATTITUDE You’ll probably encounter a pushy crowd in line, at the door, at the check-out and at the bathroom. For every curse you wish to throw out try a smile. Or a “Bless Your Heart.” You won’t accomplish much by being nasty. Close your eyes and go to your happy place 🙂

4. PUSH IT!  Use a shopping cart as much as you can. You may be buying bulky toys, electronics, and bedding. These things are heavy and cumbersome to carry. Push them in a cart, save your back. Buying tons of stuff? Bring a partner to push a second cart.

5. LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME Trust me your five-year-old does NOT enjoy regular shopping so they won’t have fun on a marathon shopping trip. Your baby wants to say home, too. You’ll get more accomplished and your kids will get the rest they need at home. Do you really want them to hear all that “cheerful” language from the people who don’t get their one-of-a-kind-sold-out-because-the-store-only-got-2-in-to-sell?

6. REFRESHMENTS Eat. Drink. Nourish yourself. You’ll be less angry if your sugar stays stable and your tummy is full 🙂

7. DROP OFF Haul your booty to the car! And by booty I mean items, goods, stuff you bought 😉  Again, your body doesn’t want to drag that stuff around all day.

8. STRETCH AND BREATHE Once you’ve stood in line for an hour to get your big items you’ll have to stand in line another hour just to check them out. Stretch your arms and legs so you don’t cramp up!

9. GO HOME! When you feel the tears coming on, when you can’t remember why you’ve gone into a store, when you’ve hit the wall, go home. Gather your treasures and head to the house. Soak in a hot tub, get in your comfy clothes and begin your Holiday Season.

10. RECOVERY A marathon shopping experience will result in a headache, sore legs, hurting feet, and tight shoulders. Plan your recovery by scheduling now for a massage next week!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

Happy Shopping and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks, Giving, and Thanksgiving

Thank you. Yes, you. You’ve been reading this and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And thank you to those who are my wonderful clients. Without you I couldn’t live my passion, my dream of helping people through the healthy, nurturing, pain-relieving touch that is Massage Therapy. I cannot say it enough to you, Thank you.

Giving. It’s what we do every day. You know what I mean, you give all you have. You work hard at your job, whatever it may be. You give yourself to your home. Things must be done for everything and everyone to function and you do more than necessary. You go above and beyond. The dishes get done AND put away. You put off reading a chapter in your book to make sure your child has his favorite shirt clean for tomorrow. You pack lunches, clean rooms, take out the trash and search for long-lost stuffed animals.

You give. And your life is pretty good for it. It seems like every moment you are doing something. Preparing for the next day, the next event, or even the next meal. So when do you rest? When do you take the time for you? Oh, I know a whole day is most impossible, but what about that chapter in the book? You should read that.

Thanksgiving is just next week. That’s right, I said it out loud. Thanksgiving is next week! What does that entail for you? Visitors? Cooking and baking? Cleaning? Shopping? Working overtime in retail? Travelling? My guess is the 24 hours you already use up in a typical day just seemed to turn into 12. Holidays tend to steal minutes from our days. They loom ahead just beyond reach and then BAM they are the next week!

Make things a little easier on yourself and cut out something that stresses you out. Add something fun into the schedule! Or just simply MAKE a schedule so that things may flow easier.

Thank yourself during this time of Thanksgiving. I think you deserve to receive a little back of what you give all year long. Schedule a massage at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. There’s time to squeeze an hour in for yourself! You could visit The Comfort Zone to get a massage!

I guarantee you will leave refreshed, re-energized and ready to face the Holidays! Visit my website, www.thecomfortzonemassage.com  and click the Schedule Appointment button! If you don’t see the time you need, call me, we can find the time!

PS Thank you again for your continued support of Massage Therapy and The Comfort Zone Massage.

PSS This was written while listening to beautiful music 🙂

Trick or Treat?

Trick or Treat?

Rub my feet!

A Hot Stone Massage

Can’t be beat!

A tiny fat pumpkin

Keep the popcorn,

Save the candy,

Hands on the neck

Make everything dandy!

 

Goblins from your work-day

Put knots in your back,

Gliding hands up and down

Send those knots off the back!

 

Trick or treat?

Rub my feet!

ANY kind of massage

can’t be beat!

 

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com to get YOUR next massage!

 

Why am I a Massage Therapist?

I love being a Massage Therapist. My job is exciting, rewarding, and never boring. People often ask me why I became a massage therapist and why I continue to be one.

I got my first massage on a random Saturday morning of my twentieth year. It was the greatest thing I had ever felt in my  life. I couldn’t move. I had drool dripping from my mouth. I had to think about how to tie my shoes. My first massage changed my life.

A couple of years later I got the courage to attend massage school because I wanted to learn how to make people feel the same way.

So why am I still a Massage Therapist?

1. I get to help people feel awesome.

2. I love to see the progress while working with regular clients. My heart soars if they’ve told my a symptom has improved. 🙂

3. I am self-employed. Even though there are days I work long hours and I still work on Saturdays, I have the ability to adjust my schedule in order to meet the needs of my family. (Plus, on a really busy day if I need to rest for 15 minutes I have the perfect room.)

4. I have the opportunity to work with some very special people. My work days are fun and exciting.

5. Stress affects the lives of so many people. Stress over-load can contribute to so many aches, pains and illnesses. I am on a mission to help people improve their quality of life.

6. I enjoy the challenge! The human body is an amazing thing and I get to work with one every day.

7. Continuing Education is a priority for me, both formal and informal. I read every week and take classes every year.

8. I like to help people learn about ways to fight pain and stress.

9. I have clients whose pain would be unbearable if they didn’t get massage. I like to be the one who can give them massage.

10. I like to help people. (Yes, that’s the standard massage school answer, but it’s true.)

11. I get to help people feel awesome!

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.

What’s That Smell?

Oh! Excuse me! Just kidding, just kidding!

If you walk into my massage office and ask yourself or me, “What’s that smell?” the answer is aromatherapy. I like to include aromatherapy in your massage treatments. I think it adds a little something to your massage experience.

The most common aroma that I use is Lavender. Lavender is my go-to scent. Yes, I know, many places use Lavender. It smells nice. The scent is excellent for relaxation, stress relief, anxiety, and restlessness. I use Lavender the most because very few people seem to be offended by the smell. It doesn’t overwhelm the small space we use for your massage.

Peppermint is another essential oil that I use in massage sessions. It is great to clear up the my-nose-is-stuffed-up-from-laying-face-down issue. And it smells nice. Peppermint has a bit stronger aroma than Lavender so I won’t use it all day long.

Eucalyptus is the other scent I use. People really like it! It is great to put on a tissue next to your nose if your sinuses or allergies are acting up.

How do I use this aromatherapy? Simple. I put some drops onto a tissue and put it close to the face rest opening under the table. You don’t even see it!  Some people mix it with oil or lotion but I don’t do that. I would rather take a class or two before I start applying the essential oils to skin.

One reason why I like to use aromatherapy in each massage is that if you lay on my table frequently then the smell will trigger your brain to relax. Your brain will begin to associate the smell of Lavender with the feeling you get from a massage. As soon as you lay down and inhale the familiar scent your brain starts telling your body to relax. Simple. Brilliant. Awesome.

PS. I don’t charge extra for this. It’s just part of the whole awesome massage experience.  🙂

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

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