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

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.

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.

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.

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.

What are the Benefit of Massage?

What are the Benefit of Massage?

Massage is no longer available only through luxury spas and upscale health clubs. Today, massage therapy is offered in businesses, clinics, hospitals and even airports. If you’ve never tried massage, learn about its possible health benefits and what to expect during a massage therapy session.

There are tremendous benefits to be achieved through regular massage therapy treatments from a Registered Massage Therapist.  Whether your need is to have a moment of relaxation, reduce muscle tension or attain relief from chronic pain, a therapeutic massage can enhance your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being as well as your quality of life.

Massage therapy benefits people of all ages.  While it benefits the injured, the ill and the stressed, the strength of massage therapy in preventing illness and conditions before they develop cannot be overlooked.  Massage therapy can be used in the treatment of both acute and chronic stages of conditions.

Here are just a few benefit of Massage Therapy:

  • Relieving tension and relaxing tight, sore muscles
  • Improving skin and muscle tone
  • Encouraging better circulation
  • Awareness of body and breathing to improve posture
  • Relieving stiff joints
  • Promoting relaxation, thus reducing the effects of stress and anxiety
  • Inducing a deeper sleep
  • Aiding digestion
  • Increasing energy by invigorating all the body systems therefore reducing fatigue

Any surprises for you?  Had you connected digestion and Massage Therapy before?

Stress and our busy lifestyles, which often don’t give us chance to sit down and take our time over a meal, can lead to a whole range of digestive troubles and disorders. Add to that the fact that we often eat junk food, take-outs and wash it all down with a huge quantity of caffeine, and you’ve got a recipe for a digestive disaster!

So, how can massage help our digestive disorders?

Constipation – Constipation is no fun, and it can lead to bloating, headaches, skin problems and bad breath, as well as pain and discomfort. Massage can aid and improve digestion by stimulating peristalsis, the wave-like muscle contractions which move the food we have eaten through our digestive tract. This stimulation of natural peristalsis helps our digestive system to function efficiently and prevents us from becoming constipated.
Digestive enzymes – Digestive enzymes help us to break down the food that we eat so that our bodies can absorb and use essential nutrients. Massage encourages the body to release these enzymes, thus helping digestion and our overall health.

IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common digestive disorder which is characterized by abdominal bloating, cramps and either constipation or diarrhea.  massage therapy, which relieves stress and promotes a feeling of well-being, can be beneficial in improving symptoms. Massaging the affected area can also stimulate peristalsis, help remove blockages in the digestive tract and reduce bloating, gas and cramps.

Stress-related disorders – General massage lowers our stress levels by causing the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals, and abdominal massage can relieve indigestion, abdominal pain and bloating. Back massage is also great for indigestion and gas.

Detox – Back massage and abdominal massage can assist with detoxification, when used with a detox program. The massage will have a cleansing effect on the digestive system by helping it to eliminate waste and toxins quickly and efficiently.

Massage offers us a drug-free, natural way of treating digestive disorders, but how do you do it? Give me a call and find out.


Running shoes and sports injuries: Do the shoes help or hurt?

Running shoes and sports injuries: Do the shoes help or hurt?

Do your research before deciding where to spend your hard earned dollars on running shoes.  A new Danish study contradicts the long-held beliefs about running shoe related damage.

Running Shoes may not be a factor in reducing sports injuries


The belief that foot pronation, or rolling inward of the ankles, increases the risk of injury in novice runners and requires correction with special shoes is being challenged by biomechanics experts.

Running shoe sales pitches tailor shoes to people based on providing “stability” shoes that offer support to the feet of people who “pronate,” tipping the ankle toward the inside of the step.

“What you can see if you don’t have the right shoe, if you will, is down the road is some injuries that can plague folks that are pronators, which is the vast majority of us,” said Bryan Smith, a manager at Running Room in Toronto.

The sales strategy has been used for 30 years. An estimated 73 per cent of cross-country runners say compatibility between foot posture and shoe design is the key factor when choosing a running shoe, Danish researchers reported in a recent issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  read full article on

Apparently this debate has been going on for some time as these articles suggest:

The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money? by MailOnline
Custom running shoes might not prevent injuries by Reuters
Running shoes: Solution or the problem? by The Science of Sport

Choose your shoe for comfort or maybe trying running barefoot.

Dr. Gruber agrees. “I always recommend that runners run the way that is most natural and comfortable for them,” she says. “Each runner runs a certain way for a reason, likely because of the way they were physically built. Unless there is some indication that you should change things, such as repeated injury, do not mess with that plan.”  read full article on

Trust your instincts and do not get oversold.  Your body will let you know what works for you based upon the pain and progress you make.  Get to know your body and understand how your muscle, joints and skeleton systems interact to avoid sports injuries.  The choice is yours.

The ingredients of Holistic Massage

The ingredients of Holistic Massage

The term ‘holistic‘ comes from the Greek word ‘holos’ meaning whole. The holistic approach to preventative maintenance massage aims to restore balance within the body, taking into account the person’s whole being not just their physical symptoms or ailments.

Massage is one of the oldest healing therapies known to man.. Holistic massage combines a therapeutic and systematic process of touch and response with each treatment adapted to the client’s needs, physical characteristics and unique personality.  It improves circulation in the body by assisting the flow of blood from the limbs back to the heart.  Deep stroking movements increase the flow of fresh blood carrying nutrients and oxygen to organs and muscles.

Aromatherapy literally means curative treatment using scent.  There are so many essentials oils derived from the various parts of plants.  The scent from these oils can have a beneficial effect on one’s well being.  When combined with massage, the benefits are increased.  

Specific oils are selected according to the client’s condition.  Massage is an effective means of ensuring that the essential oils (diluted in a carrier oil) penetrate the client’s skin.

Reflexology believes that the feet and hands are mirrors of the body.  By stimulating reflex points on the feet and hands you can relax the whole body, giving the client a sense of balance.  The reflex areas of the sole, top and sides of the right foot correspond to the right side of the body and the left foot to the left side of the body.

Originally used to treat disease, the ancient method of hydrotherapy is used today to treat musculoskeletal disorders and injuries as well as to soothe various aches and pains.

There are various techniques that belong to the family of hydroptherapy.  At Helping Hands we specialize in:

  • salt glow – a salt paste (with or without aromatherapy) is applied to your body as a vigorous skin scrub stimulating your circulation and nervous system.
  • parafiin wax – layers of heated therapeutic wax are applied to areas of chronic pain in conjunction with a massage treatment allowing your joints and muscles greater flexibility.
  • dry brushing – experience a gentle full body exfoliation with a soft bristle brush.

Massage may be defined as any systematic form of touch, which is found to give comfort and promote good health.  The basis of massage is touch, the most fundamental of human needs.  Massage relaxes the body and mind; stimulates the muscles and organs; soothes and relieves stress, anxiety and depression; alleviates pain and reduces symptoms of minor illnesses.  Basically, massage improves ones’ emotional and physical well-being, the ‘whole’ self.


The Purpose of Sports Massage Therapy

The Purpose of Sports Massage Therapy

Sports Massage Therapy is to designed to enhance athletic performance and can be used in almost any sport. The modern athlete is always in search of that extra edge (marginal gains) to overcome their competitors. Although Sports Massage can be used anytime, its mainly used for;
•  Before sporting event massage –  is used to stimulate you mentally and physically prior to competition.

 After sporting event massage – is performed after hard training or an event to ease the tired aching muscles,remove waste products, and enhance recovery following demanding exercise.

•  Injury prevention – regular massage used to identify and eliminate potential injurious tissues.

•  Sports injuries – techniques can be used at various stages of healing to enhance the natural healing process.

The best recovery enables optimum training

As training loads increase, a point is reached where the body is no longer able to fully recover between sessions, and performance may level off and eventually decline. The symptoms of incomplete recovery of the musculoskeletal system are muscle pain, joint pain, tendon and bursa inflammation. Sports Massage can help speed-up recovery.

Benefits of Sports Massage

The benefits can be broadly categorised into Physiological and Psychological processes and the interaction between the two.

Essentially, in a nutshell, the role of the Sports Massage Therapist is to deliver  safe and effective massage to meet the athlete’s specific needs. The therapist’s role usually involves  before sporting event, after sporting event, injury prevention, or massage in the treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries.  Contact Ivy today with any questions regarding sports massage therapy.

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