Massage is a pampering treat as well as a therapeutic one

Massage is a pampering treat as well as a therapeutic one

On gray winter days, reaching for a chocolate bar or a glass of wine may seem like a quick fix for the blues.  A healthier antidote for the bone-chilling cold: a massage. The soothing aromatherapy, combined with a head-to-toe deep tissue massage, pampers dry skin as well as rejuvenates and refreshes the body. A massage can boost your immune system during cold and flu season

Benefits range from simple stress reduction to improved circulation, pain relief, and enhanced sleep quality.

More traditional massages, such as Swedish (which uses long gliding strokes and kneads individual muscles), sports therapy (focuses on overuse areas), and deep tissue (slow strokes and deep pressure on tissues and muscles), are all popular massage treatment options. Which one would work best for you today:

  • Hot stone therapy: In this, the therapist places smooth and water heated stones on certain parts of the body. The heat that is generated by the stone works fine on the body and is especially very effective during winter.
  • Traditional massage: It is a dry massage that incorporates stretching of body parts which improves the blood circulation of the body.
  • Shiatsu: It is another dry massage which only focuses on the release of muscle tension, which ultimately gives you deep relaxation. It is a Japanese technique, which involves working on back body with pressure.
  • Traditional Balinese: It is an oil-based massage – a combination of acupressure, reflexology, stretching and aromatherapy. It helps you during winters by stimulating circulation. The problem of joint pain is also taken care of.

The type of massage you choose, depends on the desired outcome you’d like to achieve. I use tools gained from my experience and education to treat clients. When you’re fighting harsh, below freezing temperatures day in and day out during the winter season, you may feel like your body is continually chilled to the bone. To help fight off the effects of the frigid weather on your body and your soul, I suggest implementing a regular massage therapy routine.

Ice Bath or Massage Therapy You Choose?

Ice Bath or Massage Therapy You Choose?

You have worked too hard, or worked out too hard, your muscles are sore, what do you do next? A long, hot bath is something you may look forward to in order to relax tight muscles, relieve stress and pain or is a cold shower?

Not all fitness experts race to jump into a hot bath or hot tub to sore their achy joints. Some experts such as Marty Jaramillo, CEO of the I.C.E. Sports Health Group, recommends taking an ice cold bath in order to numb really sore muscles. Soreness happens when lactic acid and other wastes collect in your muscles through your blood vessels. Cold water temperatures constrict blood vessels as opposed to dilating them to reduce pain. Taking a cold bath can be challenging, but try to use the coldest temperature you can tolerate. You can even add a bag or two of ice into the tub if desired.

Initially, a cold compress or cold bath will help numb your back and relieve pain. Days after your injury or workout, you may choose a hot bath for your muscle aches; the heat will penetrate and relax muscles, reducing the risk for spasms. A hot bath also reduces stress levels all over your body. You may not realize it but when you have muscle soreness in one area, the surrounding areas may tense up from working harder to compensate for the sore, weak muscle groups. The bath can relax the muscles and prepare them for stretching and your next workout.
When you exercise, your blood vessels open wider and stay that way for at least an hour afterward. Soreness occurs when waste products like lactic acid settle in your muscles through these dilated vessels. Colder temps constrict vessels, limiting the amount of waste product that accumulates, explains Jaramillo.

Cool the Pain

  • If you’re feeling brave, fill your tub halfway with cold water and add a bucket of ice cubes.
  • Gradually submerge your body into the water to your waist.
  • Don’t submerge your chest; the extreme temperature could cause injury.
  • Work up to soaking for 30 seconds to one minute

When does the warm or hot bath come in? After a therapeutic massage.  Here is an excerpt from “How Massage Heals Sore Muscles”

They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.

Dr. Tarnopolsky suggests that, in the long run, a professional massage may even be a better bargain than a pill. “If someone says “This is free and it might make you feel better, but it may slow down your recovery, do you still want it?” he asked. “Or would you rather spend the 50 bucks for a post-exercise massage that also might enhance your recovery?” read full article on NYtimes.com

warm bath after massage helpsI often recommend taking a Hot Epsom salt Bath after a massage because of several factors. One I have moved a lot of metabolic waste as I manipulated the muscle tissues. Drinking water will help flush these toxins out as well.

This all helps to relieve pain. In your bathtub, you can add certain ingredients that may also help relax muscles. Consider adding sea salts or Epsom salts to your bath – this will help reduce swelling and calm your central nervous system. You may also want to use essential oils that can help relax you and help sore muscle groups such as eucalyptus, bergamot and lavender. These ingredients are often used in massage therapy as well.

Having a massage, especially a deep tissue massage, is a form of passive exercise, as hard as that may be to believe, and you need to take care of yourself as if you have just exercised.  You don’t want to ruin that relaxed high you’re on right now, do you?

How to take care of your muscles

How to take care of your muscles

Many times we don’t think about caring for our muscles in other ways than just “pumping” them with workout routines; but the advantages of knowing how to properly take care of your muscles include avoiding injuries and dealing with the results of aging is crucial.

What the research shows: “Maximal muscle strength is achieved in the 20s and 30s,” says Roseann M. Lyle, Ph.D., professor of public health at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana. “If you’re sedentary, you will start losing strength after age 50 at a rate of 2 to 5 percent per decade.” But if you keep using your muscles, through activities like weight training, you can maintain strength and flexibility even into your 90s. It’s also important to work on balance, which falters with age, and to keep muscles agile so you can react quickly.

The muscular system works with the bones to produce a wide range of movement but also plays an important role in breathing, digestion and the circulatory system. Preserve the function of the muscular system system by developing habits that reduce muscle stress and improve muscle function and strength.

If you’re not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.

5 Keys to taking proper care of your muscles:

  1. Rest – give yourself 48 hours between working muscle groups, only work out for an hour at a time and one day a week don’t work out
  2. Stretch – stretches of tight muscles like calves, quads, traps, lats, hamstrings, etc. where you hold for 30 seconds done once or twice a day increase flexibility
  3. Massage –  helps with muscle recovery, and it’s also beneficial for improving your range of motion, your flexibility and your muscle tone by increasing it. It also helps in removing toxins and waste from your body.
  4. Breath – when you’re doing the most work on the muscle, remember to breathe
  5. Drink Water helps your metabolism to stay regulated, it flushes the toxins in your body, it energizes you by keeping you hydrated

The bottom line is – the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt and if you take care of your muscles you will enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Pediatric Massage – Essential Touch for Children

Pediatric Massage – Essential Touch for Children

It is March Break here in Canada and seeing all the smiling children in public places this week has reminded made me think about why it is so important that we fill the essential need for touch for these precious members of our families.  Massage is beneficial to just about everyone, but children in particular have an essential need for touch. The benefits are numerous:

  • Touch stimulates our brains. The limbic cortex area of our brain allows us to generate emotions and make connection with others.  This touch is biologically necessary for survival.
  • Massage aids sleeping. Pediatric Massage has been found to help children fall asleep quicker, sleeping deeper and for longer periods of time. A full night’s rest can aid in the healing process as well as create the optimal time for the largest percentage of healthy growth to take place.
  • Touch can ease physical symptoms and emotional discomfort. Research has suggested that massage therapy can alleviate physical symptoms and emotional stress associated with pediatric medical conditions. Studies have shown pain, anxiety and depression can be minimized in children after massage.  This gentle touch therapy also provides comfort, relaxation, reduction of stress hormones and relief from chronic conditions like asthma, nausea, constipation and muscle aches.

For example, immediately after receiving massage, children with mild-to-moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis experience decreased anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. For young children with autism, their aversion to touch decreases with massage, while their ability to focus increases. www.massagemag.com

Numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of pediatric massage therapy when safely provided by trained professionals. “Pediatric massage provides a wonderful, unspoken communication of compassion and healing,” said Ana Maria Verissimo, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics int he Department of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Centre. “The ability to provide massage therapy as an adjunct to conventional medical treatment is a dream come true.”

Touch creates and maintains bonds between people, especially between parents and children. Giving a child a nurturing touch can deepen the trust and joy in a parent-child relationship.  For children who have difficulties with verbal language acquisition, eye contact and tactile aversions, evidence suggests the application of pediatric massage may be very effective.  Children who receive massage often appear to relax quicker and focus with greater success after their session.

Children who benefit from receiving healthy touch are often more giving of gentle touch to their family members and peers. Having an understanding of how massage makes them feel and noticing their parents upset, uncomfortable or in pain can bring about the desire to want to comfort them through giving nurturing touch.

When spending time with peers, children may notice their friend might benefit from healthy touch, a hug or a gentle pat on the back. When they want to convey their friendship, a gentle massage on the back passes along the message, “I care for you.”

Show a child in your family you care this March Break by giving them a gentle massage. For a more therapeutic massage you can contact me.

Why is stretching part of massage therapy?

Why is stretching part of massage therapy?

Most everyone knows stretching is an integral part of an exercise routine. But did you know that it is crucial at many other times including when you are not exercising? It is the process of gradually applying gentle force to lengthen and lubricate muscles and joints.

Stretching can be done by anyone no matter their current physical condition or age. It is a remarkable way to improve health without wear and tear, yet contributes to overall wellness.

Why should you stretch, and when should you do it?

Stretching improves flexibility, which allows you to move your joints through their full range of motion. Flexibility is a key element of fitness; it can enhance physical performance and relieve muscle tension and stiffness. You should stretch after a warm-up and/or when cooling down after a workout, since it is easier and safer to stretch a warm muscle than a cold one. Warm-ups bring blood to the muscles and make injuries from stretching less likely. There is considerable variation in baseline flexibility between individuals.

One shouldn’t try to make big gains in flexibility in a short period of time. Stretching should be done gradually over a long period of time and then maintained to prevent slipping back towards inflexibility. Some people will enthusiastically embark on a stretching program, but then quit two weeks later because they haven’t seen any benefit. Be patient and consistent. It takes a long time.  It is very important to relax during the stretching routine. It should not be a rushed event. The “I’ve got to hurry up and do this so I can go” attitude is counterproductive. This is a time to slow your breathing and count to 30 with each stretch.

Stretching Tips

• Stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility.

• A session should last 10 to 20 minutes, with each static stretch held at least 20 seconds (working up to 30 seconds) and usually repeated about four times.

• Stretch before exercising or playing a sport to improve performance and perhaps prevent injury.

• Besides a general stretch of major muscle groups, stretch the specific muscles required for your sport or activity.

• Do not stretch until it hurts. If there’s any pain, stop.

• Don’t bounce. Stretching should be gradual and relaxed.

• Focus on the muscle groups you want to stretch.

• Try to stretch opposing muscles in both your arms and legs. Include static stretches plus PNF or active-isolated stretching.

• Don’t hold your breath during a stretch.

• Stretch after exercising to prevent muscles from tightening up.

Proper stretching should not be overlooked as an integral part of every fitness and health regimen. Unfortunately, most people either don’t stretch at all, stretch too little or stretch improperly. Few people understand that there are many types of stretches from which to choose.

Massage Therapy and Heart Health

Massage Therapy and Heart Health

Massage can reduce stress, increase production of endorphins, improve blood circulation, reduce blood pressure, and slow heart rate—all benefits that can contribute to heart health.

Several recent studies point to benefits of massage therapy that help heal the heart.

In 2008, researchers studied volunteers who had a massage for 45 to 60 minutes. Average blood pressure fell by 10 mg Hg and heart rate by 10 beats per minute after one treatment. That’s about as much as you might get from prescribing a new blood pressure medication for life!

Earlier this year, 50 people with mildly elevated blood pressure received a 15-minute massage, three times a week for 10 sessions, while a similar group just relaxed for the same amount of time. Blood pressure fell at the end of the sessions and remained lower for several days—but only in the massage group.

Another study this year examined 8 women with high blood pressure who’d had an hourlong massage each week for four weeks. At the end of that period, their blood pressure fell by 12 mm Hg systolic (top number) and measurements in the blood reflecting inflammation (specifically VCAM-1 if you like science) fell significantly. A control group just rested for the same amount of time and had smaller improvements in the same measurements. The drop in markers of inflammation is intriguing and suggests massage therapy may have a body-wide health effect.

Massage therapy on a regular basis can reduce occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias, which cause the heart to pump less efficiently, and can decrease both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Massage can ease heart strain by improving circulation toward the heart while relaxing contracted muscles.
Massage improves circulation of oxygen and essential nutrients in the body by strengthening circulation. The massage practitioner’s manipulation of skin, tendons and muscles, the body’s soft tissues, can have a calming effect on nerves and can reduce stress. Postsurgical massage can aid in reducing pain and muscle spasms.
Massage heart health benefits:
• Reduces hypertension
• Manages depression and insomnia
• Enhances relaxation
• Treats anxiety
Regardless of age, massage therapy performed by a skilled and qualified therapist can reduce stress, cause relaxation and enhance feelings of well being. A good massage can stimulate the nerve endings in skin, release endorphins (the feel good hormones) and inhibit the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Blood will circulate more efficiently, blood pressure will drop and heart rates will slow down.
A regular massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, such as cardiac arrhythmias (the heart pumps less effectively, so less blood reaches the brain and other vital organs). A number of long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure. And maintaining a healthy blood pressure can contribute to lowering the odds of one having a heart attack.
Massage therapy releases contracted muscles and pushes venous blood towards the heart, easing the strain on the heart.Some suggest that massage therapy may move a patient’s nervous system from the sympathetic toward the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system helps mobilize the body for action (the fight-or-flight response), which ups the heart and breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system creates a resting response characterized by a reduced heart and breathing rate and dilated blood vessels.
An increasing number of research studies reveal that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increases blood circulation.For those who do not get enough physical exercise, a monthly massage is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative.
If the goal is one of health maintenance, a massage once or twice a week will assist you in reaching this goal.  Some of the immediate physical benefits of massage are regulation of the automatic nervous system activity and stimulation of the lymphatic and hormonal systems, which can contribute to heart health.
Before attempting massage therapy, first consult a primary care physician. If the doctor advises that massage may help, find a licensed massage therapist who is nationally certified through the Ontario Massage Therapy Association.
What are the 5 benefit of getting a massage in the Winter

What are the 5 benefit of getting a massage in the Winter

Staying fit during the winter season comes with a long list of unique challenges and obstacles, but staying injury free can take even more of an effort when you introduce new, winter-specific activities like skiing, skating and sledding into your fitness routine. Before the winter activity season is in full swing, take steps today to warm up and loosen your muscles so you can hit the slopes or the rink pain free, as well as minimize after-activity soreness and fatigue.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, there are two common types of stretching – static stretching and dynamic stretching – that are good for promoting overall flexibility. Research indicates that holding a static stretch for 20-30 seconds allows your muscles time to relax and elongate, thereby increasing joint range of motion. Dynamic stretching on the other hand includes low intensity exercises that mimic sport specific movements. These types of stretches are good for warming up your body prior to a sports activity, as they help increase circulation, reduce muscle tightness and help your nervous system’s ability to contract muscles forcefully.

To kick off your winter pre-season regimen, it’s a good idea to combine consistent stretching sessions with regularly scheduled monthly massages 8-12 weeks prior to the start of your favorite wintertime activity. Regular therapeutic massages prior to your desired activity allow your body to release the toxins found in tight muscles, while increasing overall flexibility and circulation. Additionally, your massage therapist can assess and monitor your body’s flexibility range, while suggesting specific stretches and other techniques that will focus on lengthening and strengthening your body’s problem areas.

Do you, your body, and your health a favor… get a massage in the winter.

1. Massage therapy is known to boost your immune system.  Studies show that regular massage therapy can boost the body’s number of “killer cells”, making it easier to fight off the many communicable diseases that float around in the Winter months.

2. Lower back pain, in particular, is a common injury culprit in the winter as you can overdo it shoveling snow, incorrectly bending over to push your children’s sleds or accidently slipping and falling on ice covered sidewalks. In fact, research indicates that 70-85% of the population will experience low back pain at some point and lower back pain is one of the most common and costly musculoskeletal problem in modern society. Luckily, research supports that massage therapy can minimize pain and disability, while increasing the speed of return to normal function.

3. With shorter, drearier days ahead, Winter can leave you feeling tired and worn out. A good deep tissue massage, can be relaxing as well as uplifting.  Massage therapy is an inexpensive way to beat the winter blues and is a healthy way to relieve stress.

4. With Winter comes dry air, and with dry air comes dry skin.  Massage therapy is proven to stabilize the collagen in your skin and also helps maintain your skin’s elasticity.  Also, whatever type of medium your therapist uses, from lotion to creams to butters, helps to moisturize your skin.  There is a reason why my shea butter budget doubles in the Winter months:)

5. Massage when coupled with warm elements help to warm the body and the soul. I incorporate heated elements in the winter months.  Using a heated pad on the table, hot towels, or hot stones in a  massage help to warm cold, rigid muscles and fascia which allows you to get the most out of your massage session.

Go ahead and book your appointment now. Trust me, you will deserve it.

How will you benefit from Sports Massage?

How will you benefit from Sports Massage?

Since many athletes are now beginning to notice the many benefits of massage therapy, more and more athletic massage therapists are becoming available. In fact, they can be found in the locker rooms of almost any professional sports event for just that very reason.

Sports massage is a form of massage typically used before, during and after sporting events. It is effective for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the muscular-skeletal system. Benefits include:

  • Improving circulation and lymphatic flow
  • Assisting in the removal of metabolic waste
  • Improving muscle flexibility, range and freedom of joint movement
  • Reducing stress and tension in the body’s soft tissues
  • Relaxing tired and aching muscles
  • Breaking down scar tissue
  • Improving posture and general body awareness
  • Assisting in mental preparation for sporting participation

For most athletes, enjoying less muscle stiffness and improving relaxation and well-being is reason enough to enjoy regular massage. But as research continues to grow on the real physical benefits of massage, more and more athletes will be taking advantage of this ‘feel-good’ training method.

Recently, researchers at McMaster University reported that deep massage after an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria. Mitochondira, the powerhouses of our cells, are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy.

For this study, the researchers had men to exercise to exhaustion on stationary bicycles. After the workout, the men had a Swedish-style deep-tissue massage on one leg for 10 minutes. Muscle biopsies were taken from one quadriceps muscle before and after the workout, and from both muscles immediately after a 10 minute massage of one leg, and again two and a half hours later. The deep-tissue massage increased the size and number of new mitochondria more than exercising without massage. Increasing mitochondria can improve endurance performance by increasing the rate that muscles can utilize oxygen.

The pressure of massage may also improve blood flow during the massage and increase muscle temperature. Massage reduces heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. Most people report a feeling of pure relaxation, reduced anxiety, and improved mood as a result. Athletes may indeed find an edge in these psychological benefits. About.com

By having a deep tissue massage at least once per week, athletes can keep their muscles healthy, improve their flexibility, maintain relaxation and have a better sleep cycle. Contact Ivy King, RMT today for your consultation.

Is massage important for Babies and Children

Is massage important for Babies and Children

YES! Babies and Children thrive on touch! Massage is one of life’s simple pleasures, and research has shown that baby and children massage can help then grow better and behave better. (Even colicky babies!) The skin-to-skin connection helps parents and child better communicate too — without saying a word. Massage is also a great way for dad to get in on the baby-bonding act.

Pediatricians actually have a descriptive term for this skin-to-skin contact: therapeutic touch. But don’t let their terminology fool you. This is one of the simplest ways to calm your baby — and perhaps even you.

Why Massage Your New Baby?

To help them breathe more rhythmically  Infants often have irregular breathing patterns, but because the skin is the largest organ of the human body and it’s rich in nerve endings, massage can help.

To stimulate growth-promoting hormones  Pediatricians have long known that babies who are touched a lot thrive. Thriving doesn’t just mean growing bigger, it means growing to your fullest potential — physically, intellectually and emotionally. A study by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that premature babies receiving three 15-minute massages per day for five days showed a 53 percent greater daily weight gain than unmassaged babies.

To build their brain Studies show that newborns receiving extra touch experience enhanced neurological development. Since the brain grows fastest in the first year, that’s the time when it’s smart to give your child extra touch.

To boost their immunity  A study of human infants 10 weeks old showed that infants whose backs were massaged by their mothers experienced fewer colds and fewer occurrences of diarrhea. Conversely, touch deprivation negatively affects the immune system. Touch enhances secretion of digestive hormones and helps the baby’s digestive system work more efficiently. 

To relieve stress  Researchers believe that one cause of colic is sensory overload. A stressed baby will cry. Infant massage can significantly reduce this stress by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

What about as your child grows?

Massage is a wonderful stress-buster for children. “Often times when we think about stress,” Hernandez-Reif says, “we think it’s just an adult condition, only adults have stress. But if you think about it, even young infants and children are prone to stress.” A young child starting school who is unfamiliar with the area or children in the class will experience stress. Family illness or financial problems, divorce and even vacations can produce emotional strain. Hernandez-Reif notes that one of the consistent findings in studies of the benefits of massage therapy is a reduction in stress and stress hormone levels: “There is a relationship between stress and the immune system. If stress hormones are chronically elevated, the [hormone] cortisol will destroy the healthy immune cells that fight viruses and tumors and keep the immune system healthy. If you can reverse that, you not only reduce stress but also reduce stress hormones, allowing the immune system to bounce back and do its job, which is to heal the body and keep it healthy.”  MassageTherapy.com

Touch is essential to a child’s development, sense of well-being and good health. Children reach out for touch as naturally as they do for food and water. A nightly massage can ensure that touch is a positive, nurturing part of their human experience. And, as Field says, “They love it.”

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Massage

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that aims to treat the whole person not just presenting symptoms. It offers a wide range of highly effective treatments for both acute and chronic stages of illness and disease. The oils have a psychological as well as a physical effect to restore balance and encourage the body’s own healing power, thus promoting good health and well-being.

A blend of oils is created to suit your individual needs which can be administered by massage (the most common method), inhalation, compresses or baths.

The benefits of aromatherapy are many and varied and so most people can benefit from a treatment. Some conditions aromatherapy can be effective for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Stress
  • Menstrual or menopausal problems
  • Insomnia
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Digestive problems

Detoxification is a natural and constant bodily process. We are continually eliminating excess toxins through our digestive, urinary, skin, circulatory, respiratory, and lymphatic systems.

While we are designed to handle some toxins, our bodies can become overloaded when bombarded with too much processed food, drink, sugar, parasites, air, and water pollutants. This can lead to fatigue, constipation, gas, bad breath, low immunity, hormone imbalances, skin problems, poor circulation, mood swings, depression, and mucus build-up.

Entering the bloodstream through the pores of the skin, essential oils are carried to all parts of the body via the circulatory and lymphatic systems. They are chemically complex and their constituents have a direct effect on the body, mind, and spirit.

Aromatic essential oils can be used in a massage oil. We combine the relaxing, manual lymph drainage of a massage with the detoxifying properties of essential oils.  Have you booked your next massage yet?

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