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

“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

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 🙂

What is Fibromyalgia? Part 2

In the last post I asked the question, “What is Fibromyalgia?” Then I talked about pain. Long-lasting pain.

People ask me all the time, “What kind of pain?” And the only answer I can give, from my personal experience in my massage practice, is that the pain is different in each person. Clear as mud, right?

According to MayoClinic.com, women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. There is pain that is often joined by fatigue, sleep issues, memory issues, depression and anxiety. So not only does it hurt physically, it hurts emotionally.

I have worked with people whose pain keeps them in bed for days. Each small task seems almost impossible. Loading the washing machine might cause excruciating back pain. Sometimes even lifting a glass to drink might be too painful. It isn’t uncommon to suffer depression, too. Depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia often have a which-came-first discussion.

Some will say that the pain causes the depression. Others say that severe depression can cause the pain fatigue.

I have also worked with people whose pain isn’t quite so severe. It ebbs and flows.  One woman works out every day to keep the pain mild. Another can only work out when she feels well. It affects each and every person differently, but profoundly.

The pain isn’t consistent throughout the body, either. For some the pain is in the neck and shoulder area with major headaches, poor range of neck motion, and constant pain. Others may have severe lower back pain, knee pain, or arm/hand pain. In some the pain acts like arthritis. Others the pain acts like severe muscle spasms. Most of the people I have worked with have good days with mild to no symptoms, as well as bad days with mild to severe symptoms. Each day can be different.

Treatment plans for fibromyalgia often include antidepressants and pain medications (over the counter or prescription.) Therapy or counseling may help with understanding how to deal with possible life changes. Having a good support system in your life who understands the situation is a tremendous help. Massage therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture could be used in addition to what ever the doctor suggests.

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.

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.)

Why Relaxation Massage?

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You’ve booked a Swedish/Relaxation massage. So what do you get? What are the benefits of a Relaxation Massage?

Relaxation Massage, commonly called Swedish Massage, generally focuses on full body relaxation. (Keep in mind, full body massage means most of the body – back, shoulders, legs, hips, feet, arms, hands, upper chest, neck and head. I will only perform abdominal massage on request.)

Stress relief and general muscle maintenance greatly benefit the mind and body. Relaxation massage uses general to firm pressure throughout the body to induce relaxation and relieve muscle tension. If you want to know what a Relaxation Massage feels like from me, click here.  🙂

Benefits of regular Relaxation Massage:

*Reduces Anxiety

*Improves Sleep

*Improves Energy Levels

*Relieves Muscle Tension

*Soothes Arthritis Pain

*Reduces Headaches

*Causes Happiness

Conditions/Symptoms that regular Massage can help:

*Sciatica

*Headaches

*Anxiety/Depression

*Shoulder Pain

*Lower Back Pain

*Arthritis

*Irritability

*Many more

What are you waiting for?! Click here and schedule your appointment! The Comfort Zone Massage is in Paris, AR.

Hair Professionals and Shoulder Pain

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I work in a Beauty Salon with two very talented Cosmetologists. Hair is the specialty for one, while the other specializes in nails. They are fantastically talented in their work. (And they are fabulous to work with!) It’s like a party every day 🙂

They are very hard-working women. They often work 12 hour days, sometimes longer with no real break to speak of. As a person who works in pain management, I can’t help but watch how they use their bodies while they work. Wow! Powerful arms and shoulders! With muscles tension and tight necks 😦

The Hair Specialist splits her days by hunching over a shampoo bowl and then holding her arms up. Have you ever lifted your arms up to shoulder height and just held them there? Now do that while squeezing your hands and releasing. I just don’t know how she holds her arms up all day without them hurting! Mine start burning after 5 minutes.

Her upper body muscles are incredibly strong. And incredibly tense. Her shoulder and neck muscles have something called hypertonicity. Hyper means too much, so it basically means too much tone. They are hard and probably hurt sometimes. This is one example of repetitive motion. I can always tell if someone does hair for a living by the way their shoulders feel. Hard, tight, and strong.

Stretching, movement, and massage can help with the tight, sore muscles.

The Nail Specialist spends her entire day holding hands, gripping fingers, filing, polishing, and looking down. Oh, she looks down SO much! It is very common for her neck and shoulders to hurt. They are also tight, hard, and strong.

I like to give them little shoulder rubs throughout the day. I also encourage them to change their movements often. And I TRY to get them to take a break once in a while! 🙂

And I always recommend a massage to loosen and relax those super-strong, super-tight shoulder muscles!

Shoulders Hurt Around Here

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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!