Ummm... do I have to take all my clothes off?
The short answer is “No. Absolutely not.”
But the long answer is, well, much longer. This is one of the most frequently asked questions about massage and deserves some discussion.
In massage school it was suggested we say to clients, “Undress to your level of comfort.” I found that’s way too vague, and doesn’t really answer the question. Heck, I’m not even sure what that means.
At some point I switched to, “Once I leave the room, please undress and lay on the table face down, underneath the sheet and blanket.” So far, so good. The seasoned clients know what they prefer and the newbies typically ask questions to clarify.
First, no matter what, you’ll always be covered (draped) with a sheet and a blanket. You’ll never be left feeling exposed or chilly. When I work on an arm, I fold the sheet back and tuck it under your arm so it’s secure. (No drafts, my friends.) I follow the same protocol for the leg. When massaging the glutes, only one side is partially exposed.
Wait a minute. Did I just say glutes?
Yes, the glutes play a very important role in humans being able to stand upright and are a common area for tension which can lead to a host of various back and leg pains. This article provides some information regarding glute massage and some do's & don'ts for your next session.
I don’t care, and I’m not judging you. This massage is about you and it’s important you feel comfortable. For some people that means leaving some clothing on. For others, it means taking it all off. There is no right or wrong, this is your massage.
Enjoy your next massage!
Happy holidays! Happy 'getting stressed out, trying to do too many things and please everyone season. Oh, wait. That's not promising.
Maybe this is the year to mix it up a little and make the holidays a little easier.
Sometimes gingerbread men will be missing a limb. The tree may have a bald spot. The kugel may not taste exactly like your grandma’s. Know what? None of it matters. Decide what's truly important to you over the holidays, and focus on that.
Once you drop the desire for Norman Rockwell levels of perfection, it gets much easier to ask for help and delegate tasks.
Kids can sign the names and address holiday cards. Wrap gifts in plain brown paper and kids can stay occupied decorating with crayons and ribbon.
Stick to a budget
Much of the holiday stress people feel can be attributed to money woes. Make a list and check it twice, making sure the gifts you choose are within your budget reach. And when you're tempted to overspend, remember that things are rarely as meaningful as a kind thought or gesture.
Shy away from the average stuff you get at chain stores and Amazon. Visit your local bookstore, bakery and massage office (Hey! That’s me!) to get gifts and gift certificates that really mean something.
Look for a winter farmers’ market where you can buy jars of local honey or handmade ornaments. Keep a stash in your car with some gift bags for last-minute “I can’t believe I forgot to get a gift for my kid’s teacher” type situations.
Bonus: you’re supporting small business at the same time!
Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of all the people who depend on you! Here's to a wonderful holiday low on stress and filled with fun!
November is Military Family Appreciation Month
Imagine a normal day. You wake up, grumble about not having enough sleep, and reluctantly get out of bed. Today your day is routinely filled with work, errands, and other ordinary tasks. It’s nothing you would consider special.
Between grocery shopping and getting the oil changed in your car, you have a laundry list of things to accomplish and Junior has a soccer game tonight. And that’s all before you have a chance to get dinner on the table.
A typical day for us is filled with seemingly mundane tasks that really are quite amazing when you compare to what other families - across the country, across town, across the street - are going through.
I’m talking about military families.
I’m talking about the families that live through all those mundane tasks but have much higher hurdles to clear. Each situation is different but they all hold a common thread; a spouse in the military.
When a serviceman or woman is deployed their spouse has to keep things together while they are away. They pick up the reins for every imaginable task. Household chores, wiping noses, paying bills, playing with the kids, vehicle maintenance…. every last project falls squarely on their shoulders.
In 2012, military families across America, more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times. 
When the a military member is not deployed, their spouse is subject to the schedule given to them; countless hours of PT, missions, and all the military work involved. In some cases, the spouse is forced to leave their job - reducing their household income - due to relocating, having children, no childcare, and other reasons.
Military families (also known as "dependents") endure quite a bit of moving, too. Transferring from base to base can raise lots of challenges. Each new place requires learning the area, finding and making new friends, and countless other adjustments. Their lives are filled with change and uncertainty. And if there are children involved (usually there are), it creates instability sometimes leaving them feeling insecure.
A 2012 demographics report states active duty members with children shows 42.4% of those children are between the ages of birth and 5 years old. 
Military family members are faced with bittersweet moments too. Junior takes his first step and they can’t revel in the moment like you and I could. The excitement and thrill of this new feat can easily be followed up with a longing for the service member missing from the moment. And we’re not even talking about holidays.
Dependents are the built-in support system for our military members. They offer the connection to home, offering their love and a letter right when the troops need it most. But it doesn’t stop there, military family members are there when those in service returns from deployment. They are the ones who help pick up the pieces. Like a behind-the-scenes crew, trying to clean up the mess and sometimes at a loss as to what they can do.
Military families are the backbone of this country.
They are constantly adjusting to someone else’s schedule and agenda, they pick up and move at a moments notice. And often they sleep in a half empty bed with a cold, vacant spot waiting for they deployed. Military spouses pick up every last toy, fold every last sock, and wipe every tear. They do whatever needs to be done and often they do it alone.
When I think of military families I think of strength, resiliency, and courage. I think of patience and an undying support system.
I also think of the heartache and sacrifices they make. Not an easy thing to do. Friends are often hard to find and keep. And most often relatives live far away - so I have to ask, who supports them.
During Military Family Appreciation Month, I want you to look beyond feeling gratitude for the mundane task you need to get done. I want you to reach further than recognizing the ability to lay your head down at night feeling utterly safe.
I want you to look at the people who support our military on every level imaginable.
Make an effort to show your appreciation for military family members. It might come in the form of dropping off a casserole, helping them plan a budget, fix a painted shut window, getting them a massage, or offering to take their kids for a few hours. Look at the many ways you can help out and DO it.
So, in honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, we’d like to say THANK YOU to all the military families who are on the front lines of supporting the men and women who protect us.
Massage and Anxiety
Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults in a given year. Anxiety is described as a feeling of dread, fear, or apprehension often with no clear justification. Most people experience symptoms of anxiety at one time or another, but for those with a disorder, normal daily life is often interrupted and limited.
A few common anxiety disorders are panic disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social phobia (Social Anxiety), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While there are varying symptoms with each, many physiological responses overlap with the different disorders. Many people are able to function with symptoms while others are unable cope with them.
Some disorders manifest with physical symptoms like sleeping problems, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating or dry mouth. Others are purely emotional, denoted by excessive, unrealistic worry, feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness. Usually, there’s a combination of physical and emotional symptoms.
Massage may help anxiety
The American Massage Therapy Association has adopted a position statement based on research findings asserting that “massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.” It goes on to say that massage may reduce symptoms of anxiety in women in labor, psychiatric patients, cancer patients, patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, children with illnesses, and many more types of clients.
The effects of massage therapy include reduced blood pressure, slowed/regulated breathing, and a slower pulse rate. If increased heart rate and rapid breathing are symptoms of anxiety could massage therapy may have a positive effect. Simply taking time to relax and removing yourself from the busy-ness of daily life can be helpful in handling some kinds of anxiety.
Those with more complicated anxiety issues may benefit from regular massage in conjunction with talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
If you are unsure about trying massage to help your anxiety, ask questions. Call me and we can talk about your experience with massage and how it may help you. Check in with your health care provider and your therapist or counselor. (Be sure to let me know if they would like more information about massage and anxiety, I can provide that!)
When you’re ready, we’ll schedule an appointment and you can see firsthand how massage may help you.
Hug (and massage!) Your Hound Day!
Did you know that September 14th is National Hug Your Hound Day?
It is. And while I am all for a day dedicated to the greatness of dogs, the truth is these companion animals are so good to us, and good for us, I think that they really deserve to be celebrated every day.
Archaeological and genetic evidence indicate that our canine companions evolved from wolves. Over tens of thousands of years, the individuals best suited to living amongst us – those who had a taste for our food scraps, who were not too afraid approach us, and who were best able to trigger our affection – selectively passed on their genes, thereby strengthening those traits. Later, once dog-human companionship was established, humans took active control over their breeding to develop traits that made dogs even more sociable. Other dogs were bred to help us herd animals, or to hunt. Humans and dogs became interdependent.
Dogs – and the wolves they descended from – are profoundly social animals. To survive and thrive they must adapt to the customs of their group, figure out their place in the hierarchy, and be forgiving. While we influenced their development in major ways, we could not have done this with just any animal species. Dogs are trainable, and suited to being our companions, because they have an appreciation for the social order that is built into them from the start.
For all of these reasons dogs, possibly more than any other animal species, are able to influence us in ways that are good for our physical and mental health. Simply having a dog has been linked to greater health and longevity. Though the precise reasons for this are not known, some likely explanations are that the act of dog walking is healthy exercise, and that having a canine companion protects us from loneliness – and loneliness is deadly. Just being with a dog can reduce stress, and petting a dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure and to stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and love.
Of course, dogs benefit from our companionship, too. In addition to getting their basic needs for food and shelter, they want and need our companionship – anyone who has come home from work to a bouncing, tail-wagging pooch can testify to that. And much like humans, dogs like and benefit from touch, though each individual dog has its own preferences; some may only want to be petted very little, others a lot. Petting should be adapted to suit the individual dog.
If a dog likes to be petted, does it logically follow that she might really enjoy a massage? Well, why not? Though you may never find a dog that is as into massage as this Corgi, if your dog likes to be petted there is no reason not to give her a basic canine massage. With practice, you should be able to customize the massage to best suit your dog. Meanwhile, you’ll be strengthening your bond all while getting your own health benefits.
Wait – what did you say? After all that you don’t even HAVE a dog?! Consider adopting one. The Humane Society of the United States has local chapters in all parts of the country that can help connect you with wonderful dogs (and other companion animals) that need a forever home.
Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.” “I can’t get monthly massages I have too much to DO!”
Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.
When do you relax? RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear often, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.
re·lax verb \ri-ˈlaks\
1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.
2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself
3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.
4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.
5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.
More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?
If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at Calgon commercials and spa photos of people with stones piled on their backs. But here’s the beauty: You can make your own definition of relaxation.
It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?
Then, make time for that.
You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.
Need someone to give you a reason? Want permission?
August 15 is National Day of Relaxation. Yes, it’s a thing! And it’s just begging for celebration. Here are some ideas:
Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!
Call 214.563.2050 or schedule online here for your relaxation session!
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Juvenile Arthritis ...
Arthritis isn’t just one disorder. It’s a complicated set of musculoskeletal disorders made up from over 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. The symptoms cause pain, limit movement, and can halt an otherwise active person’s life.
In the US, almost 300,000 of those affected by arthritis are kids. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a broad way to describe a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. We don’t know yet why it strikes, and it can appear in many different ways.
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month, and I’m taking this opportunity to learn more and share more about JA. Here are five things I didn’t know, and I bet you don’t know them either.
Children Can Be Diagnosed With Arthritis
When we hear the word arthritis we often think of adults with stiff joints, not children and teenagers. Stiff joints, pain, and swelling for more than 6 weeks are associated with arthritis. Eyes, skin, and the gastrointestinal tract can also be affected in children. It is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body is attacking itself instead of a foreign body such as a virus. If your child or teen seems to always have a tummy ache and complains of joint pain it could be a good idea to visit your doctor for a chat.
There is No Known Cause
Parents of children with a JA diagnosis will ask the question, “What caused this?” Unfortunately the answer is usually, “We don’t know for sure.” Researchers are looking at genetic and environmental factors which may contribute to the development of JA, but they have found no specific cause. There isn’t one single blood test to diagnose. Studies are trying to determine if siblings of children with JA will also develop symptoms.
Common Signs of Juvenile Arthritis
Complaints of painful knees, hands, feet, neck, or jaw common symptoms. This pain is common first thing in the morning or upon waking from naps. Arthritis pain tends to appear slowly, not suddenly like an injury.
Stiffness in the joints is another sign of arthritis. Usually the stiffness will be worse in the morning but improve with movement throughout the day. Some children may stop doing certain things. Has your toddler stopped using utensils to eat when he has been wielding a fork for months? See if you can determine if he’s in pain or just exploring with his fingers.
Swelling of a joint or joints is a strong sign a child might need an evaluation. The joint may be hot to the touch, as well. Often a child with JA will develop fevers with fatigue but no other symptoms of illness.
Treatments for Juvenile Arthritis
Even though there is no cure for JA, doctors will have a treatment plan for each patient. Treatments may include medication, physical therapy, nutrition, and eye care. One patient may respond well with medication while others may do better with movement or physical therapy. The whole family will work together in an effort to maintain normalcy for the patient. Adjustments to schedules may happen, but there’s no need to quit living life altogether.
Massage as a Treatment
We all know massage feels great on sore muscles, but can it help with the stiffness of arthritis? Maybe! We know massage can have a positive effect on blood pressure and anxiety. A study at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey looked at people with osteoarthritis of the knee. The people who received a Swedish (or relaxation) massage twice a week for 8 weeks reported improvement in pain levels and function.
Massage for children and teens can be beneficial in many ways. Regular massage helps manage painful symptoms and can help improve self-awareness, self-image, and self-confidence. Parents can even work with a massage therapist to learn soothing techniques to apply at home. Massage for arthritis is usually gentle and soothing with a warm touch, perfect for use by any parent trying to help his or her child. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a massage for your child (or yourself!) you can always contact me by clicking here.
With this list of signs you may learn how to spot the signs of something more serious than a case of the childhood “I don’t want-tos.” Chronic pain is no fun, but it can be harder to deal with if no one knows it’s happening. Juvenile arthritis is a real issue with real symptoms. If spotted and treated early, it doesn’t have to mean an end to the active life your child deserves.
Some applause for great dads!
Gone are the days of dad working all day to come home to a pipe, slippers, and the evening paper while the kids sit waiting for dinner. This generation of fathers and step fathers are “all in” when it comes to child-raising. There’s more to a dad these days than little league coach. Men who play an active role in their children’s lives deserve a little recognition.
Whether they are baby-wearing or carpooling, more dads are helping care for families “in the home,” some even full time. According to the US Census Bureau there were 93,000 stay-at-home-dads in the United States in 2000. Fast forward to 2012 and they reported 189,000 stay-at-home dads and it’s not only moms at “Mommy and Me” anymore!
Dads who work in the home chase kids, hold babies, sing lullabies, clean messes, play taxi driver, and juggle after school schedules. They get stressed out, touched out, and overwhelmed. These guys need “me time,” too. What does he do for down time? Video games, hunting, fishing, workout, massage?
Stay-at-home-dads aren’t the only awesome ones, though. Many working fathers don’t take a break when they arrive home but dive right in to home life. Cooking, cleaning, and playing with the kids is more than “pitching in,” it’s a part of life with a family. More and more dads share in the sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane activities called life.
Weekend dads are important, too. Sometimes circumstances arise in which a family lives apart. Trying to pack a week’s worth of time into a weekend can’t be easy. Going from a full house to an empty nest every other week can have an emotional effect, especially if they live miles away.
What can you do for the special man in your life who shares your home, your children, and your life? You could find tickets to his favorite team’s game! Maybe there is a concert coming up he’d like to go to. Send him on a fishing/boating/hunting trip. Slip a massage gift certificate into the stack of homemade cards from the kids. Heck, make him a card yourself! Cutting and painting construction paper sounds fun and he’ll know you’re “thank you” is coming from the heart!
Happy Mothers Day!
Whether you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, Mothers Day is time to honor those who've played this important role. Stepmothers, birthmothers, and godmothers too. While there are as many ways of being a mother as there are moms in the world, one thing is certain: it's a tough job, but a rewarding one. Here are just three ways massage might be of service to the mothers in your life.
Prenatal massage is a growing field, as training programs for massage therapists increase and old myths about massage during pregnancy fade. Massage can ease the aches and pains associated with increased weight, loosened ligaments, and shifts in center of gravity. There are all kinds of cushions and props that can help pregnant women relax comfortably on a massage table, no matter what their dimensions. Contrary to the old tale, massaging the feet, ankles, back, or even stomach will not cause miscarriage when done appropriately.
Of course, massage therapy, while helpful, isn't a cure-all. Massage can't stop that nosy neighbor from touching your belly every time she stops by, or cravings for hot Cheetos and root beer at 2:00 AM. But it can alleviate some of the symptoms that naturally come with growing a new human being, leaving expectant mothers more free to focus on the hope and joy that make pregnancy such a fabulous stage of life.
Adoptive and Foster Mothers
Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.
Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.
Mothers of Young Children
Unlike pregnant mothers, who often feel like their motherhood draws too much attention to themselves, society tells mothers of young children that their role is all about their children first, second, and last. Getting up in the middle of the night to change a leaking diaper? Chasing a toddler into the street? Taking time off work to care for a kindergartener with an ear infection? No matter, it's not about you, mom. It's about your kids.
It's true, to a point. Who wouldn't make sacrifices for their children? But one factor that can contribute to a healthy, happy childhood is a healthy, happy mother, and every person deserves to take steps towards their own well being, mothers too!
Massage therapy can help the body rest and recuperate from the effects of a busy schedule, interrupted sleep, and the physical strain of lifting and interacting with growing children. It also provides precious time for moms to focus on their own needs, apart from the responsibilities of mothering. And for those mothers who find themselves dealing with the very real condition of postpartum depression, massage may also play a role (although far from the only one) in an appropriate treatment plan.
Moms who are not moms
For women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, Mothers Day can be melancholy. There is great joy in being a Favorite Aunt, Baby Spoiler, and Super Supporter of all her friends with children, but we don’t have specific days to celebrate those roles. Women without children don’t always get all that snuggle time with little ones that raises oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Massage is a great way to get the happy chemicals pumping. If there’s a woman in your life who loves your children, or makes your job as a parent better or easier, Mothers Day is a great time to recognize her.
There's no one way to be a mother
Despite what the sensationalist headlines about the Mommy Wars would have us believe, and there's no one way to take care of your health and wellness. Whether the mother you're thinking of needs a sports massage after her next marathon or a deeply relaxing hour so she can doze, it's all worthwhile. So this Mothers Day, let's do all our moms a favor and call a ceasefire, honoring them in whatever ways make sense for their own lives.
Get your favorite mom(s) a massage gift certificate here . It’s easy, fast, and a gift she’ll love!
And to the mothers out there reading this, on Mothers Day and every day … here's to you.
As much as we enjoy the emerging flowers and warmer weather of April, there can be a bit of a dark cloud hanging in the spring sky. Often the first few weeks of the month are a rush of receipts and 1040’s as the April 15 Tax deadline looms, and a rush of new schedules as the kids’ sports seasons fire up. Maybe that’s why April is Stress Awareness Month; to remind us to take care of ourselves, and not let stress go unchecked.
Meditation does not have to be about pretzeled legs, chanting, and reaching enlightenment. It can simply be about creating a moment of stillness in your mind as a way to become more relaxed. Just one minute, 60 seconds of meditation, can dramatically improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.
It can be tough to make time for exercise when the schedule gets tight and tensions get high. But that's when it becomes even more important. Exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you can't make time for daily workout, try to fit a 5-10 minute walk outside into some part of your day. A little goes a long way when you need it.
Giggle and hum
Both laughter and music can lower the blood pressure. In fact, this studyin 2011 showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing 10 pounds, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication.
So cue up the "Who's on first?" or dance around with your kids while making dinner and work some giggling and humming into your day.
Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage now to prepare for a busy (and fun) spring!
Commit to taking care of yourself this spring! You may be surprised with the results. Call today (214) 563-2050 or schedule online here.
March is fun for a few reasons. Exciting basketball, green beer, and a confused body clock. Wait, that’s not fun. March is when we attempt to shake off the winter doldrums and see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of daffodils and light sweater-weather. Daylight Savings Time robs us of a precious hour of rest we won’t see it again ‘til fall, and our sleep cycles get all out-of-whack.
But sleep issues aren’t just a seasonal problem. It’s estimated that over 60 million Americans suffer from short-term (a few days or weeks) or long-term (more than a month) insomnia. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem.
We’ve all heard the standard ‘sleep hygiene’ tips about avoiding caffeine, using room-darkening shades, and going to bed at the same time every night. Here are a few other ideas that aren’t as well known.
Taking a nap during the day can be great for productivity and fabulous for health, but you’ve got to do it right. Aim to nap for 20 to 25 minutes, any longer than that and you’ll feel groggy when you wake up and you risk not being able to fall asleep when it’s bedtime. (If you really want to get good at power naps, there’s a whole kit to help you get it right).
Be mindful of the temperature.
Take a warm (not hot) shower or bath about an hour before bedtime, and keep your room cool at night. The drop in body temperature signals your body to calm so you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
Turn off the electronics.
Okay, so you’ve heard this one. But it’s the most important and the least followed piece of advice.
Get an old fashioned alarm clock so you don’t need to use your phone. Turn your phone, iPad, Kindle, or whatever you’ve got off, and put the devices in another room. Yes, a whole other room. You may think that a phone on silent, hanging out on your nightstand, won’t disturb your rest, but it will. Just knowing it’s there puts your body on alert. It’s far too tempting to reach over and ‘just check a few emails’ if you do wake up in the middle of the night. Save yourself. Break this habit.
Get a massage
Yes! Massage can help with sleep issues. There have been several studies demonstrating the efficacy of massage in people with sleep problems, especially when treating secondary issues that may impair sleep, like back pain, pregnancy and migraines.
You can call me at (214) 563-2050 or schedule online here Bodyworks Massage & Spa and get ready for a better night’s sleep.