Massage As A Back-Pain Killer

A regular massage is often considered to be a treat, rather than a necessity. Most people believe that having a massage is good for aches and pains, or can help if they’ve overdone the exercise. Not everybody realizes that massage therapy is also a powerful painkiller that can even be used to help people with back problems to reduce the amount of medication they must take.

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and if you’re one of the 31 million Americans who suffers with back pain at some point in their life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. If you are dealing with chronic back pain – which is pain that’s lasted more than three months and less than six – it can impact on your daily life, and stop you doing things you want to do. You could be reliant on drugs to keep you mobile or help you sleep.

The vicious pain cycle

If you can no longer exercise pain-free, you might end up in a vicious cycle of inactivity which makes your pain worse, which stops you being active. Or you could just increase your meds but that just masks the problem. Also, some strong pain meds contain painkillers opioids like codeine which can lose their power over time as you build up a tolerance to their effects. They can also have unwanted side effects.

What you need is a way to manage your back pain that is effective but doesn’t have the side effects. Wouldn’t you know it, research has shown that regular massage along with your prescribed medication and any other advice from your healthcare supplier can be so powerful that you might be able to decrease the number of painkillers you need to manage your back pain and start to live a more active life.

How massage can help beat back pain

A massage session doesn’t just relax you, it can help to promote tissue repair, improve the blood circulation and does wonders for your stress levels and mood. Recent research showed that regular massage therapy combined with exercise helped people suffering from chronic back pain to feel less anxious about their condition too.  The study, which took place at a pain management clinic in Western New York, involved sixty chronic low back pain patients who were split into two groups. One group received regular massage therapy, twice a week for four weeks, along with their regular treatment, and one group only carried on with their prescribed treatments.

The participants all recorded their own pain levels before and after having massage therapy on a scale of one to ten. There was a significant difference between the pre-and post-treatment pain rating in the group that had regular massage, but the control group who carried on as normal reported no changes to their pain levels.

If you suffer with back pain and want to try something different – book that massage session now.

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Why your feet need a massage

We usually don’t think about our feet. Until they hurt. We tend to take them for granted, but like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some attention.

When they start to hurt it can lead to many other problems.

When your feet hurt you don’t want to do much of anything. You just want to stay off of them. Your body likes to move, though. And your brain functions better when you are active. So foot pain can quickly lead to other issues.

Foot pain can cause of other pain in your body. If your foot hurts, you change the way you stand, walk, and move. Those changes affect your legs. When your legs hurt, you make more changes in what you do, which affects your hips, then your back, then your neck.

Some jobs involve being on your feet most of the day. Often it is on hard floors or rough terrain. You may have a long walk from the parking lot to your job.

At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our belongings. We shop, stand chatting with a friend, stand in lines, and walk around doing errands. We cook, do laundry, clean and put things away. You may make multiple trips up and down stairs every day. Yard work and home maintenance keeps us on our feet as well.

You may kick things out of the way or stomp your feet to let out some frustration. You may do extra walking for exercise or from an inconvenience, or run to make it somewhere on time.

If you enjoy sports you use your feet to run, jump, and kick. Your feet take a real pounding since they support all your body weight along with the extra force from the exertion.

For exercise or fun activities you use your feet for yoga and fitness classes, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance – and hauling all of your equipment around..

Your feet have things dropped on them and they get stepped on. You step on unexpected things such as rocks, tools, or toys (Legos!).

All of your leg joints are all affected by your feet. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving foot pain allows your muscles and joints to be in their proper positions and with less pressure on them you feel better.

We squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes or boots. Sometimes it may be for the sake of fashion, such as high heels. Other times work footwear is uncomfortable. Sandals may be more comfortable but they may not provide the support your feet need.

Massage provides relief from Plantar Fasciitis, heel pain, and other common foot pain. Most muscles that move your foot start in your calf, so relieving foot pain can also reduce calf pain too.

Your feet do a lot for you. Give them some attention with a massage so you can keep doing what you want.

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Why your legs need a massage- ( a special contribution from Barry Hatfield!)

***This month’s post was written by Barry Hatfield of Main Street Massage in Hudson, OH***

Our legs do a lot for us. We use them all day, every day. Like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some care.

Our legs take us where we want to go. They let us walk around to do what we need to do – even if it’s just to grab a snack from the kitchen.

Some jobs are physical and involve being on your feet a lot. If lifting and moving things are involved you use your legs to lift and haul them around. Job responsibilities can have repetitive actions than can overwork your muscles.

Other jobs are not very physical and involve a lot of sitting. Long periods of time with your legs in the same position causes your leg muscles to shorten, so when you do stand and walk your legs feel tight. Add commuting time in a vehicle and your legs may spend most of the day inactive. Try to include regular times through the day to get up and walk around if you can.

We may run to catch a bus, keep up with a child, or to get out of the rain.

At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family,  and our things. We carry laundry and groceries. We shop, cook, clean and put things away. If you have stairs you will make multiple trips up and down every day.

Yard work and home maintenance such as mowing grass, gardening, and digging puts our legs to use.

If you enjoy sports you use your legs to run, jump, and kick. You pedal your bike, kick your legs to swim, and run and kick in soccer. You jump in volleyball and basketball. Depending on where you live you may surf or ski which involves a lot of leg use.

For exercise or fun activities you use your legs for yoga, pilates, or fitness classes. You use your legs for lifting weights, boxing, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance.

Your hip, knee, and ankle joints are all affected by your legs. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving muscle pain decreases the pressure on those joints and you feel better.

Wearing high heels can add to pain in your legs, too. The heels cause your muscles to be used in different ways since they not in their natural positions.

Hip and back pain can start in your legs. If one leg hurts you will change how you walk, stand, and even sit to keep it from hurting. That adjustment will affect your other leg. Your legs attach to your hips, which connects to your back, and as more muscles are out of normal position pain begins to develop there too.

Your legs do a lot for you. Give them some attention with a massage so you can keep doing what you want.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Life with Cupcakes

Cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? November 10th is National Vanilla Cupcake Day and we’re here to celebrate. We’ve covered some heavier topics in previous posts, so this month we are going to lighten the mood with cake.

Share with friends.

We know it’s hard to share any dessert, but cupcakes are the perfect addition to any coffee date. Catch up with a friend, drink some coffee, tea or cocoa, and savor the moments.

Get creative.

If you like to bake, step out of your comfort zone and attempt to create a cupcake with unique ingredients. Try a savory cupcake. Or attempt a new decorating style.

Enjoy downtime.

Trying to cut back on the sweets? Tune in to Cupcake Wars on Food Network and watch all the yummy goodness without the calories.

Bake together.

What better way to bond with a special person in your life. It may be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, anything goes here. It goes beyond the treat and makes the quality time spent together that much sweeter.

Give a gift.

Cupcakes make a perfectly sweet gift. Couple that with a massage gift certificate and you’ll knock gift-giving out of the park.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this holiday celebrates the cupcake as much as the people and relationships around it. Take a time out, bring some cupcakes to an elderly neighbor, or simply slow down and enjoy life. Cupcakes and all.

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How to Offer Support to Families Dealing with Cancer

Families are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path, whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.

Do. Don’t ask.

It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting – just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.

Gift cards go a long way.

Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers.

Remember the siblings.

Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.

Show up

Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.

It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present.  Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.

These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.

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11 Ways to Treat Yourself (That don’t involve money or food)

It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn’t wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.

But for every article I see about self care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think “Who can afford that?”  And sure, I would love to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken, and a cookie dough chaser. But that’s not particularly healthy.

So I’m a fan of realistic self care. That is, activities that aren’t expensive, don’t involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here’s a list of my favorites

Meditate, the easy way

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep during the day, napping can be  more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online, my favorites are at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website.   

Walk and a picnic

Okay, this one involves food, or just a beverage. Pack a little bag with a snack and a drink and go for a walk. Doesn’t need to be far, doesn’t need to be fancy. Just get outside, find a rock or a glade or a bench, settle in and sip your beverage. Listen to the quiet, or people-watch. Even better, bring a little trash bag and pick up litter along your route. You’ve just added in a random act of kindness to your personal time. Go, you!

Read a book

When was the last time you read for pleasure. Even if you can’t get to your library, there are plenty of Free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library probably may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.

Learn something

If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don’t feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby.  Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!)        

Draw

Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don’t have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.

Write a letter (this one will cost you the price of a stamp)

Remember letters? On real paper? It’s becoming a lost art, which is kinda sad. It used to be so exciting to get a real letter in the mail. Not a bill, not an advertisement, but a real letter, with news, from someone you love. It was downright magical.

If you feel totally lost and don’t know where to start, here’s a site to help you out.

Geocaching! (Pre-PokemonGo-Style)

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. There are plenty of free apps to help you learn geocaching and get started. My favorite is Geocaching.com.  

YouTube Karaoke

For nearly every song out there, there’s a karaoke accompaniment on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.

Play cards

Get a kid and play Uno, or find an old deck of real cards and fall into a game of solitaire.

Foot bath

You can go nuts and find a whole bunch of fancy recipes on the internet, or just throw some salt into big bowl of warm water. Put a foot in there. Scrub it a bit with a washcloth. It feels good, the warmth is calming (or use cool water if it’s a zillion degrees where you’re at), and your feet will be all soft and good-smelling when you take ‘em out.

Got a teabag? Throw it in. Got an essential oil you like? A few drops’ll do. No big whoop.

When you’re ready, dry that foot off and slather with some lotion. Or coconut oil. Or olive oil. Whatever you have is just fine. (Put some socks on to really make it last, and so you don’t slip, ok?)

And when all else fails: Nap

Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!

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Body image risk and reward in massage

Body image. Almost everybody has something about their body that they don’t like. For many people it’s a minor issue, no big deal. But some people have a major issue with their body image. It affects how they live and their happiness.

When I tell some people that I’m a massage therapist it can cause a strong reaction. They tell me, whether verbally or through their reaction and body language, that massage is not for them. Their body image is such an issue that they don’t think anybody else can accept them.

The paradox here is that massage can really help with body image issues. In massage school we were all nervous about taking off our clothes and letting somebody else touch us. It didn’t take long for us to discover that bodies are just bodies and become much more comfortable with our own. We also experienced how good receiving a massage made us feel. Something unexpected happened – when our bodies felt better we felt better about our bodies.

I think there are three options to consider. Let’s look at the risk versus reward for them.

1. Don’t get a massage.

This is the easiest because it involves doing nothing. The risk is low since you are not letting another person see or touch you at all.

The reward is zero. You didn’t get a massage so your body doesn’t feel any better, and you still have the stress you had before.

2. You get a massage, but the massage therapist makes note of how you look, as if it matters.

If this has happened to you, I’m sorry. You got a crappy massage therapist. That’s a bummer, and I’m really sorry. You took a risk, and even if the rest of the massage was decent, got very little reward.
This is not going to happen if you come to me. Never. No way. I can’t say this strongly enough. It goes against the very nature of who I am, how I treat people, and what I believe.

3. You get a massage. A great massage. And the therapist does nothing to make you feel uncomfortable about your body. In fact, you feel pretty good about your body after the massage.

In this option your risk is low. I don’t care how your body looks. That’s none of my business. I just want to help it feel better. Your reward is high. Again your body will feel better from the massage and you can start feeling better about it.

I have no idea how your body got to be in the condition that it’s in. You may be dealing with something that you can’t control, such as a medical condition or an injury or accident. You may be in a lot of pain or are limited in what you can do physically. Since I don’t know what caused your body to be like it is now I can’t make any judgments about you.

I’ve worked on hundreds – maybe thousands – of people. Each body is interesting and I’ve yet to come across one that I could not help.
If you have been avoiding massage because you feel uncomfortable about your body, let’s find an option that works for you. You don’t even have to explain anything to me. Leave your clothes on. Stay sitting up or face down or lying on your side or however you want. It’s up to you.
It’s my job to help you feel better. That’s it. Together let’s find a way to help you relieve your pain and stress. Don’t let your body image keep you from feeling good.

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