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march 09, 2010 03:12pm

The Importance of Post Massage Hydration

Most massage therapists will make the firm but polite recommendation that you drink plenty of water after each massage. You may be wondering why this is so often emphasized. The fact of the matter is massage is actually dehydrating - some types of massage more so than others.

Any time muscles are manipulated, fluid shifts around in the interstitial spaces between the muscles and dehydrates them. You're losing water and electrolytes, just like when you exercise. You might feel squishy like a sponge, but you still need to moisten those cells. In the days following a massage, you reduce the possibility of pain and soreness by drinking plenty of water starting immediately after your session.

In the case of lymphatic massage, the stimulation of the lymphatic circulation system can release large amounts of wastes. Think of the lymphatic system as the body's sewer system, which collects waste material and carries it away for disposal. Lymphatic massage is like a drain cleaner that flushes the body's pipes and keeps them clean. Water helps flush that waste down the drain.

During a good massage, blood is circulated throughout the whole body as the muscles are stimulated and water, salt and other minerals are released. By consuming plenty of water, you are helping your body dispose of all of those unwanted waste materials that have accumulated in your muscles.

Your body will always benefit from proper hydration, but after a massage it is especially important to drink lots of water. Re-hydrating will help organs such as the kidneys process the various substances which regularly move through the body. Drinking water prior to a massage is recommended as well, as it makes it easier for your massage therapist to manipulate your muscles, allowing for deeper bodywork (think wet sponge vs. dry sponge). Your therapist will be able to tell when you're well hydrated by the pliability of your skin.

You may have noticed that you feel a little disoriented after a massage. Having a glass of water will not only flush away toxins and hydrate your muscles, cells and organs, it will also help to bring your awareness back. Take your time getting up and leaving after a massage. If you need to be quiet and zone out for a few minutes, you should be encouraged by your massage therapist to do just that. Sit and drink your water, giving your body and mind time to recuperate before returning to your everyday reality.

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march 02, 2010 10:00pm

Wellness In the Workplace

Many employers are now taking a proactive approach to wellness for their employees by providing access to preventative and supportive health education and services such as massage. This is beneficial to the business and the individual as it ensures everyone is in good health and functioning at their highest capacity. After all, assuming that everyone knows and practices the proper way to sit at a desk (yes, there is a wrong way), work on a computer, stretch at intervals, and feed themselves is a mighty big assumption- and one that many people would find themselves in the wrong on.

Offering access to massage in the workplace is something that has grown greatly in popularity recently, and with good reason. Massage relaxes tense muscles, relieves stress, and improves concentration and focus. After a massage, employees tend to be both more relaxed and alert, a combination which is key to efficiency and efficacy in job performance. These results are easily achieved with a fifteen minute chair massage. Whether weekly or monthly, massages also promote higher employee moral and create a strong sense that they are being supported and appreciated.

Alongside massage to get workers back into the zone, there are numerous other techniques that should be taught to employees, such as what to eat for energy and brain function. Knowing how and when to snack to keep energy levels high will help everyone get through the day without that afternoon drop in productivity. Along with knowing how to eat, employees should also learn how to sit. Proper alignment, whether at a desk, on the phone, or working with a computer is essential. Learning good posture and how to stretch and take breaks to relieve stress in both the body and the mind will further enhance the daily experience of each employee and facilitate better results for the employer.

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january 19, 2010 01:40pm

Communicating With Your Massage Therapist

The best way to receive the massage you need and desire is to be very clear with your massage therapist about what you would like to experience. It also depends on your ability to speak up and provide them with feedback during the massage. While many therapists will prefer to maintain a quiet atmosphere while doing massage, both for your benefit to help keep you relaxed and for their own so that they may fully concentrate on the work they are doing, however, your therapist will appreciate you letting them know if the work is too deep and intense, or if you would prefer more pressure.

Many people find that their massage therapists are very intuitive in their work, and so assume that the therapist can tell what you want them to know. True, if your therapists applies pressure to a muscle, and you tense up, they'll know to back off and work some of the tension out before applying that kind of of pressure. This is merely an example of the way their training teaches them to read your body. A massage therapists cannot, however, read your mind. They may not know that you experience an aching pain in your neck if all the tension is between your shoulders. They cannot know how much intensity or sensation you experience with pressure to know when to work deeper...unless you tell them.

Assuming you and your massage therapist have done a comprehensive intake before your massage, here are a few experiences that should be due cause for your speaking up during a massage:
You are experiencing pain
You would prefer more or less pressure to be applied to the body
You experience tingling that runs down your limbs- indicative of nerve involvement
You are cold (this will cause you to tense up)
If you feel uncomfortable for any reason
If you are having an emotional response- massage relieves tension we've held in our body, which is sometimes connected to emotions. Massage therapists are educated in the body-mind-spirit connection and will be accepting of your experience, and may be able to share with you more about the process you are experiencing.

Obviously, this is simply a basic version of the conversation that will be happening between you and a massage therapist. The thing to know and understand is this: the more information they have about what you want, need and desire to experience, the better they can work with you during the massage to achieve your goals. Be open to listening to your massage therapist about any advice they might have for you- what they learn from your body language, tension, and muscle structure will likely be valuable information for you to work with.

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january 07, 2010 09:15pm

Easing Back Pain With Massage

There's good news on the horizon for the millions of Americans who suffer from low back pain. Some studies have found moderate to strong evidence of the positive benefits of massage in treating this chronic, pervasive problem. In studies such as "Lower Back Pain is Reduced and Range of Motion Increased After Massage Therapy" (conducted in 2000 and published in the International Journal of Neuroscience), massage therapy not only eased chronic low back pain in adults, it also reduced depression and anxiety, improved range of motion and sleep, and increased serotonin and the catecholamine dopamine biochemical levels.

The findings of such studies are compelling and encouraging, as these data may suggest that massage therapy effectively reduces back pain, can positively impact the biochemical system, and attenuates psychological symptoms associated with back pain. Since the problem of chronic low back pain has such an adverse affect on job productivity and work absenteeism in our country, there is great hope that if the positive effects of massage therapy in back pain studies can continue to be replicated, it will be highly beneficial to the millions who suffer from the condition.

Why does massage seem to be so effective in treating back pain? Because, in essence, alleviating pain is one thing massage therapists are trained to do, whether they do it directly by gently manipulating and palpating muscles and soft tissues, or indirectly by reducing overall stress and tension in the body, allowing the patient to relax. Massage therapists are trained in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and they spend many hours concentrating on and performing bodywork. Whether it is lower back pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia, massage may be able to relieve the associated pain. Happily, massage is completely compatible with other therapies such as chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

The beauty of all this is that studies are clearly showing that massage is one way to ease pain, but more importantly, there are plenty of undocumented instances occurring everyday in which people are experiencing pain relief from massage. Each individual, however, experiences pain differently and for different reasons, so it's important to consult your physician or health care professional for diagnosis and treatment advice. All in all, it can be argued that all of this research, along with the unreported success stories happening all the time, is giving a renewed since of hope to chronic pain sufferers.

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january 01, 2010 04:53pm

The Importance of Touch

We all are faced with the difficult task of offering words of encouragement to those who are ill, or as a way to convey good will to the elderly. However, in many cases our attempts are feeble and can seem meaningless more often than we care to remember. Sometimes the best way to make someone feel better is with a warm hug or a gentle hand on the shoulder. The touch of another human being is a primal human need which also contributes to the acceleration of the healing process occurring after a physical injury or an extended illness.

Living in a mechanized world for the past few decades has taken a toll on the general health of individuals in modern societies and we are just now becoming acutely aware of the negative affects associated with the absence of touch. However, through the resurgence of touch-based therapies like massage we have come full circle back to the roots of healing and good health.

Massage therapy has begun to help us reclaim our natural instinct to nurture each other with touch. This is especially true as seen with the benefits of healing and compassionate care for the elderly. From pet therapy, we have learned that blood pressure and blood sugar levels improve when a dog or cat is held and stroked, which is true for the young, old and every age in between.

We're also reclaiming our instinct to nurture the ill and dying through gentle touch, both in an attempt to revive health and to offer transitional compassion. The relaxation achieved through a gentle foot or back massage has amazing pain relieving results and time free from pain and discomfort allows the body to use its internal resources for healing. Touch is natural, with few, if any, side effects, and it allows us to reconnect with our natural ability to heal.

Massage has proven to be especially physically beneficial for the elderly, as it improves circulation of both blood and lymph, stimulates the nervous system, softens tight muscles, and enhances function of the digestive and respiratory processes. Administering touch to the elderly can also increase appetites, decrease the need for pain medications, calm agitated states, promote restful sleep, and decrease post-surgical recovery.

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