Migraine Q & A

This is day 2 of the “31 posts in 31 days” blogging challenge. 

 Q- I know there are many things out there for headaches, but I’d like to hear what you have to say.  I have recently weened myself off of my Topomax due to the negative findings related to the drug for migraines.  I am having headaches almost everyday but not at all like the migraines before.  What do you recommend I do between massages? 

A- I visited MayoClinic.com to research this question.  I work mainly with tension headaches so I wanted to get accurate information about migraines.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the same things that I recommend for tension headaches are recommended for migraine headaches.


Please consult with a doctor before using or discontinuing any medications.  I am not suggesting anyone stop medications, simply suggesting a few things to do at home to hopefully prevent headaches. 

These tips are taken from the website www.mayclinic.com, but they are also things I recommend to people suffering from headaches.

*Muscle Relaxation Exercises- Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga.  You may also try spending at least a half-hour per day doing something fun!

*Get Enough Sleep- The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Your body likes to go to bed and wake up at the same times, too.

*Rest and Relax

*Headache Diary- Keeping a headache diary is great way to figure out headache triggers.  You may discover a food trigger or hormone trigger.  Learning these things may make it easier to adjust things to reduce headaches.

*Manual Therapy- Massage Therapy and Chiropractic treatments may help reduce the frequency of migraines.

In between massage sessions, you could practice progressive relaxation techniques (tomorrow’s post!), and self head and neck massage.   If you work at a computer take frequent breaks, adjust your chair and monitor, and move around as much as you can.

Do you suffer from migraines?  Do you have a way to prevent or relieve the pain? Please share in the comments!

PS.  I fight headaches with my bare hands atwww.thecomfortzonemassage.com 🙂 

Relaxation Massage

I have taken a challenge from a fellow blogger to post 31 times in 31 days!  Let’s hope I can make it!  Please, if there is a question or topic you want to know more about e-mail me or ask it in the comments.

I am a full time Licensed Massage Therapist working with different types of people.  I believe that a fantastic relaxation massage is a great foundation to have when addressing common aches and pains, shoulder pain, lower back pain, headaches, and stress relief.  These issues are the issues that are presented to me every day.  How do I begin to help these people?  Relaxation massage.  Almost every one I see has some sort of “problem area” or area of discomfort.  I pay special attention to these areas and utilize many techniques for pain relief.  At the core of it all, though, are my relaxation techniques.  It makes sense to me to relax the whole person, as well as “dig in” to the problem areas.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to have an entire hour (or more) to receive a blissful, relaxing massage, complete with a scalp massage AND some trigger points, friction, and deep kneading on tight shoulders?

The National Institutes of Health has written a nice article about massage therapy.  It is a general description with some positive statements.  Humans have a basic need for touch.  Massage Therapy is a great way to administer and teach healthy, nurturing touch.

Well, how is my first post of the challenge?  Please put post ideas in the comment section!  I can’t wait to see what I write about tomorrow!  (That’s right, I am going to fly by the seat of my pants!  Not too much planning…)

PS.  If it’s been a while since you’ve had a Fantastic Relaxation Massage, visit my website and schedule an appointment!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

Should I Drink Water After a Massage?

Since I have encountered a minor case of The Writer’s Block, I asked the land of Facebook to present me with questions for a Q & A post.  Only one person responded, but with a FANTASTIC question.  A question that is important, as it addresses one of the many “Myths of Massage.”

Q: “Why is it important for me to drink plenty of water after getting a massage?  What will happen if I don’t?  What will happen if I drink other fluids?”

A: It is not important to drink water just because you got a massage.  If you don’t drink water after a massage you probably won’t die or suffer in any way.  If you drink other fluids, you will be fine.  Coffee will keep you awake and too much alcohol will get you drunk.  

OK, I can hear you freaking out over there, but I’m serious.  It is a common “Myth of Massage” that a person must consume water after receiving massage.  It has been passed down through the “generations” that massage therapy somehow releases “toxins” in the body and water will “flush it out.”  I will admit to you all right now, I was taught this.  I repeated this to clients for SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS.  I wrote about toxins for two years in another blog.  (I deleted it when I discovered I was passing on incorrect information.)

I must interject, WATER IS NECESSARY FOR LIFE, I am NOT saying that water isn’t important.  I am saying it isn’t ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to drink water to flush toxins after a massage.  I offer water to each and every client at the end of his/her massage because I tend to be thirsty after a massage.  My mouth gets dry, much like after a nap.  I offer the water because he/she might be thirsty.

The last year or so of my life has been dedicated to learning more about the body and massage.  I have discovered a science-based person who wrote a great article, full of chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology to fully answer this question.   This article has a lot of science in it, but he throws in a little sarcasm and humor.  You can check it out here .  And I must say, the video he links to by Laura Allen is awesome!  She is one the greats in the massage world!  She is someone I look up to, I even have one of her books.

So, I’ve admitted to be wrong, rocked your world about toxins and water, and let someone else answer the question.  How’s that for my first  Q & A?!  This question is asked by hundreds of people every day, so I hope I have helped spread the truth a bit.

The Waiting Room Headache

Do you ever get the feeling that you are different? I stuck out like a sore thumb today!  While sitting in a waiting room, I noticed that almost everyone is reading something. Several people were reading magazines, two people were reading electronic tablets, and one person had a book. I, too, had a magazine to read. However, I looked a little different.

All the people held their reading material in their laps. Heads were thrust forward, shoulders sagging, and backs were all wadded up like an upright fetal position. Comfy, right? And then there was me. I held my magazine directly in front of my face. I looked as if I was hiding! You know, hiding in plain sight like on a sitcom.  “You can’t POSSIBLY see me with this magazine covering my face!”  I don’t know if I looked like a fool or not, but I know I looked different from everyone else.

 

It’s amazing what I notice when surrounded by people. I am in the business of pain relief and I have gotten pretty good at spotting pain. The people who stared into their laps all day probably ended up with a headache. And neck pain. And shoulder pain. Holding the reading material in front of your face helps hold your head up. The neck muscles don’t have to strain or pull on the back of your skull causing eye-gauging pain. Well, it *might* not be eye-gauging but it could be. Why risk it?

What did I do differently? I sat with *mostly* good posture while holding the magazine up to my eye level. I also stood up and walked around periodically. Sitting for long periods is hard on the body. After I rode in the car for an hour, sat in a waiting room for three hours, and rode home an hour, I was EXHAUSTED! And my shoulders hurt a little bit. I tried to walk around frequently and still ended up in pain.

The next time you have to wait somewhere and you whip out your phone or magazine try holding it closer to your eye level. It works, trust me! If it’s too late and your neck and shoulders already hurt please visit my schedule to see if there is a massage opening for you. It’s easy! Choose a service then a day/time.

See you soon!

A Certain Pain in the Neck

Neck Pain.  A pain in the neck.  Unable to turn the neck one way or the other.  It burns.  It stabs.  It ACHES.  And it just won’t go away!  You know what I’m talking about.  Well, know what I’m talking about because, some days MY neck hurts!  And do you know what?  I don’t like when my neck hurts!  Yes, I stretch.  Yes, I get a massage week (really).   But I like to know WHY my neck hurts.  Or why YOUR neck hurts.  So I investigate.

There are many causes of neck pain in our every day lives.  Driving, talking on the phone, lifting, reading, and a thousand other things can cause neck pain.  But there’s a cause for burning neck pain right under your nose…literally.

I thought for a while that my vigorous work schedule was the cause of my neck pain.  I hurt while giving massage, after giving massage, at home on the computer, and even just sitting to watch TV.  I couldn’t figure it out.  And then…

In an effort to reduce my discomfort one evening while on Facebook  blogging, I put a pillow under my laptop to raise the screen closer to my eyes.  Aha!  It only took me two days to figure out the cause of my pain!  The laptop!  I spend several hours a night with my face buried in the laptop, sometimes working, sometimes just reading stuff.  Well, let me tell you, the lap is no place for a laptop!

When the laptop is directly in your lap your head is tilted down and forward.   (Check right now!)  One or more hours in this position puts a huge strain on ALL of your neck muscles!  And shoulder muscles.  And mid-back muscles.  And lower back muscles.  Should I go on?

So what now?  No laptop on the lap?  All things in moderation, I suppose.  For me, if I have a big work project like working on my website, the laptop and I will be at the kitchen table.  It isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement.  And for the casual internet surfing, webinar, and blogging?  I put one or two pillows between the laptop and my lap.   I’m looking into some kind of tray or portable desk.  I also take breaks, stretch and rotate the neck muscles.   And massage!  I get massage 🙂

The next time you have a burning pain in your neck, try to find what’s causing the pain.  Then find a way to lessen the pain.  Visit my website to see if there is a massage right for you!  www.thecomfortzonemassage.com  

6 Steps to Fight Your Headache

Headaches.  I’m sure this word brings a series of wonderful words to mind if you suffer them.  Many of my clients tell me they suffer from frequent headaches.  Headaches aren’t fun.  I decided to write about headaches today because my head hurts.  I don’t like it and I feel like whining.  Since whining isn’t helping I decided to use this energy for good!  I did a few things to make my head feel better and thought, “HEY!  I could write this in my blog for someone else with a headache to read!”  So, here you go.  Six steps to Fight Your Headache.  I tried to make it five but I really didn’t want to leave any of these steps out because they all work together.

1. Neck Rotations

You don’t even have to get up!  Start by looking over each shoulder.  Slowly.  Relax your shoulders and straighten your spine so your chest is open.  SLOWLY turn your head to look over your left ear.  SLOWLY move to look over your right ear.  Do this 3-5 times slowly.  (See the trend?)  Now rotate your head so that your chin moves in a circle towards your chest, from side to side.  Do this 4-5 times.

2. Shoulder Rotations

Take a deep breath to relax your shoulders.  Now move your shoulders in circles, forward and backward.  5, 10 to 15 times feels great.  This gets the blood moving and the muscles start to loosen.  Now shake them out a little bit.  

3. Massage Your Neck

Take one hand, with fingers together, and make a “C.”  Put this “C” on your neck vertically.  Now move your fingers.  You can squeeze, push, shake, push, or pull.  Whatever feels good at the time.  Massage each side of the neck for a bit.  1-3 minutes should be great.  Or stop when your arm starts to hurt. 

4. Pressure

At the base of your skull there are two indentations on the side of neck.  These are a great place to apply pressure to relieve headaches.  Once you’ve found these indentations take one thumb and push into one side.  Hold for about 10 seconds.  You may push lightly or you could push very hard, whichever feels best at the time.  Push 3 times on each side.

5. Face Massage

Take your fingertips and rub circles into your forehead.  30 seconds to a minute feels good.  Rub gentle circles at the temples for as long as you like.  Rub your eyebrows.  You can apply direct pressure to your brows and cheekbones.  These areas can use a little more pressure.  Now rub big circles on your cheeks.

6. Scalp Massage

Lift your hands.  Spread your fingers out and bend them a bit to look like a claw.  Put your “claws” on your scalp and rub.  Fast.  Slow.  Deep.  Gentle.  Circles.  Lines.  ANY and ALL of them!  The people around you may look  at you funny because you might be moaning and groaning by now!  Do this scalp massage as long as you want to.  

Hopefully your head feels better now!  Mine does.  Even if your headache isn’t completely gone it should feel a lot better now.  You’re welcome 🙂

I give this advice to my clients and I hope it helps you!  I like to tell people that I fight headaches with my bare hands!  

Did it work?  How does your head feel?

The Great Divide

There seems to be a great divide in the world of massage therapy.  Relaxation massage vs. therapeutic massage.  Is there a difference?  Is one more important than the other?  Is one BETTER than the other?  I spend quite a bit of my time reading discussions, debates, and comments about massage therapy by massage therapists.  We, the Therapists, seem to be entrenched in an epic battle trying to decide which is the better massage.  I don’t participate much in the dialogue, but I read every word that I can find.  (Often these discussions are what lead me to learn things about new research, good policies, business advice, etc.)

The terms differ a little but the sentiment is the same: “My massage is better than your massage and anyone who chooses to do something different is somehow inferior.”  To be fair, no one is really saying these specific words, but the tone is ever-present.  When did this divide occur?  Why is a relaxing massage not as good as “medical” massage?  Why can’t a “relaxation” massage be a “therapeutic” massage?

Massage therapy is used in many settings including, but not limited to spas, beauty salons, stand-alone places, chiropractor’s offices, doctor’s offices, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, dentist offices, and others.  All of these are different working environments with different training requirements and expectations.  But they are all administering massage therapy.  It seems that the people who are working in contrasting environments are trying to tear down the other.  I’ve seen comments from either side, as well as the middle.

I say, “Why can’t ALL massage be considered good therapy?”  

My massage style is a manifestation of both “medical”* massage and “relaxation”** massage.  I work in a salon and I don’t file insurance.  I give one-hour, ninety-minute, and hot stone massage.  My massage sessions are tailored to what the client needs that day.  I have some clients who want to “check out” for an hour, relax, revive, and feel good.  These are people who come in on a regular basis, some with pain issues, some without.  We talk about what they need that day, I turn on the music, they lay down and I give an awesome massage.  (They tell me it is awesome, so I’m taking their word for it!)

I also have people who are in pain.  They have an injury, a condition, or chronic pain that massage therapy can help.  I use different techniques, I focus on the painful areas, and put all my effort in to pain relief.  I have become really good at using relaxation techniques followed by muscle specific work to relieve pain while (gasp) simultaneously relaxing the person.  Bam.  The best of both worlds.

I think that relaxation massage IS therapeutic.  There is a lot of talk about the effects of stress on the body.  We Therapists are always talking about stress relief, lowering blood pressure, getting rid of headaches, relieving stress-induced muscle tension, and improving lives.  There are tons of articles circulating talking about all the health problems resulting from stress.  So WHY is a stress-reliving, relaxing massage not considered therapeutic by some?  A relaxing massage contributes to stress relief.  Stress symptoms can go away. Health problems that result from  excessive stress could improve.  Sounds therapeutic to me.

My clients don’t seem to have a problem with my location or massage style.  They know that if they always get general massage but one day have an injury or issue that I can change what I do to address the problem.  What is so wrong with that?

I don’t think one is better than the other.  I also don’t think that any style is more important than any other style.  It’s what is important to the client on the table.  That is the most important, the best.

Why can’t both be the “best?”  Aren’t we all just trying to help people?

* I am calling general massage relaxation massage, also known as Swedish massage.

** I am considering medical massage to be the people who self-describe themselves as that.  They may work in a hospital, or with doctors.  Often not in a spa or salon.

What do you think?

Massage Feels Like…

*If you’ve never had a professional massage before, here is a wonderful description.*

The door opens into a small room.  The room is lamp-lit with a massage table draped with soft linens.  A lavender scent lingers nicely.  This room is quiet, serene, simple, and designed for comfort.   Heat seems to radiate from the table into the body, no shivering in this room!  Soft, soothing music plays.  The songs are almost always unrecognizable but beautiful.  It  is enough to distract but never loud enough to disturb.

Hands with warm lotion or oil begin on the back.  Long massage strokes, one after the other, signal the muscles to relax.

Slow, relaxing massage on the whole back is followed by detailed, specific massage on each shoulder.  Living life creates muscle tension between the shoulder blades that travels up to the neck.  Kneading on each side of the neck and on each shoulder melts this pain away and deeply relaxes the body.  Hot towels rest between the shoulders to enhance the pain relief and deepen total relaxation.

From foot to hip, hip to foot, the legs are worked next.  First one leg then the other, these muscles get kneaded, pushed and pulled.

After turning over one foot is uncovered for massage.  That’s right, a foot massage!  A hot towel wraps and compresses each foot, followed by a luxurious foot and leg massage.

Each arm is then worked and stretched including the shoulders, biceps, forearms and hands.  Special attention is paid to the hands.  Thumbs knead the palms and then each individual finger is rubbed and pulled.

The massage ends with the neck, face and scalp.  Fingers massage each side of the neck from the back, side and front.  Tension is erased from the whole body with the face massage.  Slow circles at the temples are followed by deep circles on the jaws and cheeks.  Eyebrows are traced and compressed along with the sinus area of the cheeks.

Claw hands explore the scalp and hairline creating goosebumps from head to toe.  The scalp is kneaded and scratched both deeply and lightly.  PURE BLISS.  This concludes the massage session.  All you have to do is lie down and breathe.