Hot Stone Face Massage

“Um, you want to put hot rocks on my face? Does that even feel good?”

That’s the reaction I sometimes get when I talk about this new massage service. Many people have never had a hot stone massage so they don’t know what to think about it. I mean, it’s rocks, how can that possibly feel good?

Hot Stone Face Massage uses hot*, oiled stones on the face to relax tense muscles. Jaw muscles are often wound tight like a rubber band. This could contribute to headache pain. None of us likes a headache. People with neck pain can get even more relief if a face massage and front-of-the-neck massage is included. All these muscles are either connected somehow or work together to stabilize the head, chew, move the neck, move the shoulder, etc. So it’s kind of “incomplete” if the front of the neck and face aren’t worked on at least a little bit.

Why Hot Stones on the Face?

Short answer: It. Feels. Awesome.
Better answer: The heat from the stones helps the face muscles to un-wind. They need to loosen a little bit. As these tense muscles loosen the pull they have on the skull softens. Less pull means less pain in the head. Slow circles and gentle pressure on the jaws helps loosen the grip there helping to ease neck pain. Massage on the forehead seems to be the thing that helps the rest of the body “let go.” It’s almost as if there is a button on the forehead that needs to be massaged in order for the mind and body to fully relax. It’s kind of amazing.

This type of face massage is slow, warm, specific, pain relieving and relaxing. Sometimes this 10 minutes added to the end of a relaxation massage is what puts a person into the much wanted massage coma. Adding a hot stone face massage to a deep tissue session for shoulder pain can really enhance the pain-relieving results. The neck moves better. The head doesn’t hurt. The million-and-one thoughts bumping around in the head quiet down a bit.

That’s why. It feels amazing and helps relieve pain. Will you try one at your next appointment?

*The stones are heated in water with a special Hot Stone Warmer. It has a digital thermometer. I initially heat the water to 135 degrees. Once the lid of the warmer comes off the water cools. The water is never too hot for me to put my hands inside. It is around 120 degrees. I cool the stones a bit before I place them on the face or body. I don’t have to wear a glove to get them out. If the stone is too hot for me to hold it is too hot for your skin and I will let it cool. Safety first, my friends!

Please visit my website for more information and an appointment!

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

Running and Foot Pain

Sesamoiditis. What? Never heard of it? I bet you’ve felt it, though. It commonly presents as pain in the forefoot, usually beneath the big toe. The Mayo Clinic defines it as an inflammation of the small accessory bones (sesamoids) located on the underside of the foot near the big toe.

Have you recently started increasing your running miles? Sesamoiditis sometimes creeps up on people who are increasing miles while training for a marathon. The pain starts as a mild ache in the ball of the foot and becomes more painful over time.

Image from Mayoclinic.com

Take a look at your running shoes. When did you start using them? Are they showing wear and tear? Do you add extra support with insoles? Runner’s World magazine suggests replacing your running shoes every 300-500 miles. Worn out shoes and incorrect shoes both contribute to injury in runners. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the shoe store.

The common treatments for this type of foot pain are

  • Rest! Ease up on the training a bit. Do some other types of exercise and let the foot bones recover.
  • Ice. I know that soaking your feet in a hot bath feels good, but in a situation involving inflammation you will want to put ice on the painful area.
  • Your physician may recommend some type of over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • The doctor might also suggest a corticosteroid injection to help with swelling.
  • Extremely painful cases may require walking boots or crutches.

Wouldn’t a little bit of rest be better than a week or so on crutches? Listen to your body. I read somewhere this week that pain is not your enemy. Pain is a signal.*  Sometimes we know exactly why something hurts and how to make it better. Other times we can’t figure out why something hurts and we don’t know what to do.

If you are training for a distance you’ve never ran before, be mindful of your aches and pains. Soreness may be common and even expected, but excruciating pain isn’t necessary to achieve your goals. Find a trusted source and get a training schedule complete with short days and rest days. And follow it!

Do you experience any foot pain? What remedies would you add to this list?

*Update: I remembered where I read this! Kat Mayerovitch wrote a great piece for other massage therapists. She is who said that pain is not your enemy.

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.

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 🙂

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 🙂

Sometimes Skin Deep is Deep Enough

Do you ever have one of those days where you aren’t expecting much only to be rewarded immensely? Today has been such a great day all because of one conversation.

I have new client who decided to try massage therapy to ease her back pain. She has the kind of debilitating back pain that keeps her in her chair all day. She can’t go a single day without taking prescription pain medication. She has had surgery and is not wanting another one.

About 6 weeks ago her neighbor brought her to me to try a massage session. We talked for quite a while about her surgery, meds, pain levels, and activity levels. We discussed expectations. I was proceeding with caution with the expectation that she would stop me if it hurt too much. She was proceeding with desperation with the expectation that I might help bring her pain level from a 10+ to 6.

Can I just say… the pressure was on me!

I administered a very gentle massage to her back. Slow, gentle flowing massage strokes for an hour, mostly on her lower back.(Gentle like just applying lotion.) When she left she said she felt great and that nothing I did in the session hurt. She made an appointment for the next week.

When I greeted her this day she told me that she had been extremely sore for 4 days after her massage, but that the excruciating pain seemed to be less for a day or 2. I administered the same gentle massage for an hour. She said she felt great and made another appointment. Each week she tells me that she is very sore after her massage, but that the massage feels good. She also tells me that her pain levels aren’t changing, but she thinks the massage is helping. She sees me every week.

Today was the 6th week. The first question I ask her now is, “How is the pain today?” followed by, “How long were you sore after your massage.”

Today she answered with the most beautiful words. “I didn’t have any soreness after my massage last week.” I nearly cried! She went on to say that her weekend went by with less pain than normal. Less pain. She says she is only taking 1 pain pill per day now. She had been needing to take 2.

The desperation in her eyes is fading every week. She smiles more each time we see each other. She says she is thankful for the small relief she gets because it gives her hope. I do not promise to take her pain away. I simply try to help her to be comfortable.

And I do this with gentle massage. And love. Because I love to try to help people.

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!

 

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

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