It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week!

February 9 starts International Random Acts of Kindness Week. Their website is packed with great ideas on how to celebrate, and I especially love the approach of committing a random act of kindness for three different people:

  • Someone you don’t know
  • Someone you know
  • Yourself

 

Someone you don’t know

This is pretty simple and can quickly become a habit. (That’s a good thing!)

Smile! When you’re in a depressingly long line at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler’s public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life. Trust me, the parent will be grateful for the encouragement! Another person to show kindness would be the cashier at the grocery store. He/She has probably heard more complaints and seen more frowns today than the average person. Smiles are contagious, spread them around 🙂

 

Someone you know

Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.

Write a little note to the people you live with. My 8-year-old LOVES to receive messages from us. You don’t need to fill a legal pad with a bunch of words. Grab a stack of post-it notes and write a few words. Draw a smiley face. Color in a heart. Place them where your kids, spouse, mom/dad, friend, co-worker, mail delivery person, nurse, boss, employee, (the list is endless) can see them. Make someone’s day.

Make it a point to touch someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver!

Yourself

People depend on you, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop on the square. Play music during your shower as you get ready for the day. Music makes us happy. It’s a great way to start out.

Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!

Laughter (a poem)

Laughter seeps through the walls

intermittently sliding ‘neath the door,

Serenading the unheard story

unraveling in a distant room.

Laughter caps the ocean wave sounds

blending with soft music

as quiet breaths rise and fall inside

an envelope of sheets and blankets and warmth.

Laughter quietly accentuates

it does not interrupt.

An audible smile is catching,

Contagiously flowing from room to room.

Laughter seeps through the walls,

intermittently sliding ‘neath the door,

So quiet some moments,

bursting through at others.

Laughter never ruins the hour,

contagiously flowing from room to room,

Melding with the music,

blending beautifully into the background.

Laughter seeps through the walls …

An Open Letter to My Massage Clients

I have been a Licensed Massage Therapist for almost 12 years. 12 years, y’all! It’s gone by so fast! Some days I feel like a seasoned veteran of my profession while other days I feel as if I know nothing and never did. Something I love about massage therapy is that there is ALWAYS something to learn, read about, analyze or evaluate. Ethics and client relationships are two of the most important things to me. Lots of folks think studying ethics after a decade is pointless. I beg to differ. How we communicate to clients is a huge ethical priority, I’ve failed numerous times. But I strive to do better, to be better.

This brings me to my letter to you, my Important Client.

Dear Client,

If you’ve gotten massages through the years from different people you’ve heard many things said to you about your body.  Comments may have been funny, sweet, even complimentary. A few words may have been wrong, hurtful, or confusing.  (Unintentionally, usually) You ask questions about this knot or that tightness. You’ve been answered with varying degrees of medical jargon, science-y words, made up words, guesses, and well-intended blaming.

In the beginning of my career I admit to doing this to clients. Speaking out of turn, incorrectly about a body. The truth is some of what you ask we don’t know. Or *I* don’t know and am willing to admit it. The following are things I no longer say, words that no massage therapist should be saying to you.

OMG, your shoulders are SO tight!

I’ve stopped pointing out “tightness” or “knots.” It draws attention to a perceived flaw. You are not flawed. You are you. Your body has aches and pains and those may or may not have anything to do with “tightness.” Incidentally, many of what I once considered muscle knots are actually muscle attachments. Sometimes when muscles attach to a bone we feel a lump or knot. That kind of knot isn’t going to be rubbed away.  Exclaiming words like these is dramatic and serves no purpose. Besides, it may make you feel badly about yourself. I want no part of that. 

What did you do to yourself? I’ve never felt shoulders this bad!

The first sentence lays blame onto you. Then you might begin thinking “if I’d only not do this” or “If I wasn’t so ___ I wouldn’t hurt all the time.” Our bodies develop pain or discomfort for any number of reasons. I cannot determine why a muscle hurts.  Sure, repetitive motion injuries exist and, yes, we can often assume extended computer work causes shoulder pain. But I’m only assuming. And I should really keep my mouth shut about the “why” and concentrate on the “make it feel better.” If you have questions about doing certain things which may cause pain we will have a conversation about movement and changing positions.  That’s all, though.  Client blaming/shaming isn’t my thing. My words do not need to give you a complex. Negative words such as these could have a nocebo affect making you feel pain you didn’t feel before. Nope, your massage experience should be positive. Accusations such as this only cause insecurity and guilt. You aren’t guilty of anything, you’re simply in pain seeking help.

 

You should always/You should never …

It’s not my place to tell you what to do with your body, especially if you don’t ask.  If you ask about ways to reduce certain pain we’ll have a discussion. I’ll ask questions and we’ll talk about different ways to try things. I don’t always have the answer. And it isn’t always “your fault” you are in pain. Again, these statements lay blame where no blame exists.

 

You should try this weight-loss product

No. Nope. Never.  If I fill my retail shelves with weight-loss items then try to peddle them to all my clients I’m breaking all kinds of ethical rules. I would never intentionally insinuate any of you should lose weight. It is NONE of my business. Asking you to buy something like that would likely hurt your feelings and cause you emotional distress. I WILL NEVER, EVER PUT YOU IN THAT SITUATION.

I care about your whole person: muscles and bones, nerves, brain, heart, spirit and soul. I promise to try my best to build you up, never lay blame, and never cause shame. I have created a safe place for you. You are always welcome here 🙂

Sincerely,

Tracy Bradley, LMT

The 60 Minute Massage

The 60 Minute Massage is, by far, the most popular service I offer. People choose an hour for a variety of reasons. Budget, schedule, physical needs, etc. Why an hour? I had a big post planned out to talk about money, schedules, and such but I scrapped it just now. Talking about why we *can’t* get massage isn’t as fun as talking about we *should* get a massage.

IMG_0414

Why is a 60 minute massage right for you?

Sixty minutes of massage therapy allows time to address most of your body. Many of us have aches and pains in more places than we don’t. Devoting a whole hour to a session gives me enough time to apply massage techniques to most large areas of your body. Thirty minutes is great in a pinch. I can really work over your shoulders in that time.

What about the rest of your body?

During the 60 minutes I have time to massage your feet. That’s right, your feet. Hot towels and foot massage help to decompress your mind and get your body to relax. Plus, it feels dang good.

Included in the hour treatment is significant time for hot compresses on your back/shoulders. Just when you think “it doesn’t get better than this!” I sneak over a couple of hot towels to rest on your shoulders. And then I cover them with a big dry towel so they don’t get cold quickly. This seems to be the point of almost total relaxation. Ahhhhh …

If you schedule an hour massage we have time to work on your lower back, too. Upper back, lower back, middle back. All of the back. I have so many clients who deal with different back problems. Having an hour to slow down and focus on these areas is a good thing.

Hands. Oh, let’s talk about hand massage. You don’t even remember it’s your favorite part until I start kneading your palms. My goodness, the tension that’s present in the hands in fingers! Time for a hand/finger massage is time well spent.

There is enough time for a scalp/face/neck massage in an hour session. This is typically toward the end of the massage. When my hands begin to caress your scalp the rest of your body releases the last bit of tension it’s been holding. Getting your face massaged is magnificent. It’s the icing on the cake of an already fantastic massage session.

Sometimes 30 minutes is all you have. I’ll do my very best to make the most of those minutes and help your body. But, when you have time I recommend trying a full hour massage.  You get 60 minutes devoted to your whole back, each leg, both feet, arms, two hands, neck, scalp, and face.

When would you like to try a 60 minute massage?

 

5 Things Massage Can Help You With Right Now

You know I think massage is awesome, right? Here are five things massage therapy can help you with right now. Do you only get massage on special occasions? Check these out, you may find you need to come in sooner:

1. Headaches

Muscle tension headaches can make you feel like your head is going to explode or your eyeballs pop out. Put some heat on your neck and call for a massage appointment. Hot packs and slow, steady massage of the neck, shoulder, scalp, and face muscles will gently ease the pounding between your ears.

anxiety_amp2014 (1)

2. Dry Skin

Winter air is dry. I know this because I shock the crap out of myself every time I touch something. Pop! The harsh air dries out your skin causing itchiness. Not fun. I use a pure massage oil with no preservatives or parabens. Your skin will LOVE getting rubbed down with an all natural oil. You get your muscles massaged AND your skin nourished. Win-win.

3. SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder

Recent research suggests that regular massage therapy could lessen the severity of depression symptoms. Yep, good, dependable research discovered that. That’s probably one of the most awesome benefits of massage therapy I can talk about. SAD tends to occur in the darker winter months. It’s often too cold to go out. It gets dark early and stays dark longer. That sets a person up to get lonely or sad. Schedule regular massages this winter. My room is warm, I have a table warmer, blankets, and hot towels. Added bonus: Our smiles are warm and welcoming 🙂

4. Lower Back Pain

In 2011 a major research study was published showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.

Headache relief with scalp massage
Headache relief with scalp massage

5. Irritability

Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question it might be time for stress reliever. I happen to know massage a fabulous stress reliever. You get to shut off all the annoying things when you shut the massage room door and lie down on the table. Music, silence, lavender, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.

If you needed a good reason to schedule a massage now you have 5!

Treat Your Feet

IMG_0386

Foot massage relaxes your whole body in only a few minutes.*

Hot towels, pushing, pulling, and rubbing. Oh, yeah, it feels good.

*If your feet are ticklish we can skip this part*

Worrisome Wellness Words

-or-

Misused words I wish wellness professionals and product pushers would stop using!

  • Toxins
  • Detox/detoxify/detoxifying
  • Cleanse/cleansing

**Updated to add a link to this fantastic article “You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth…”

Misused so much we probably don't know the real meaning.
Misused so much we probably don’t know the real meaning.

In massage therapy and other wellness professions these words are thrown around willy-nilly. “Release the toxins!” “Rid your body of toxic build-up!” “This XYZ miracle product will detoxify your skin/body/guts and you’ll be skinny/beautiful/healthy without changing your lifestyle!” “Try this miracle cleanse!” Consumers are being misled and given incorrect information about how their bodies work. This isn’t a new thing, it’s been happening probably since the beginning of time. Or at least the beginning of selling things.

I’ve said them all. I used to talk about toxins every day. I was taught, incorrectly, that massage helps remove toxins from the body. My instructors had no idea they were teaching outdated information. They are wonderful people who were teaching what they were taught. I’m not angry with them, only myself for not questioning things sooner. Click here to see my previous post about toxins.

Often the people using these words to sell their services/products do not know they are misusing the word. They were either taught incorrectly, like I was, or they are repeating marketing material. The trouble with the marketing material is not very many people research it further. Look beyond what the company says. I want to stress again that many of the people selling products do not know they are misusing words. They aren’t trying to scam anyone, they themselves have probably been taken in by the bigger company.

These words have been misused for so long we don’t even realize it’s wrong.

It ain’t right, y’all.

We see things on television and the internet touting near-impossible results for very little effort but a definite amount of money. Some products are for weight-loss, others for general health and wellness. Marketers and salespeople repeat these words over and over. The word toxin is grossly misused. The description of how many of these products work defy the reality of known science, anatomy, and physiology. Yet, we still gather in groups to hunt the dreaded toxin and cleanse our lives for good.

We, as consumers, must put our critical thinking caps on to ask some very simple, yet important questions.

  • What is a toxin? No, really: what is the real definition of toxin?*
  • How does the body process toxins?
  • Better yet: how does the body process food? Vitamins? Medicine?
  • Will anything eaten or ingested actually change the way the body processes food, medicine, chemicals, anything?

*Toxin: : a colloidal proteinaceous poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation (merriam-webster/medical)

Examples of a toxin would be botulism (food poisoning,) snake venom, cholera, and tetanus.

Will an essential oil, wrap, smoothie, vitamin, or massage really rid the body of these things? No. If you have a real toxin in your body you will have specific symptoms that will lead you to seek medical treatment.

I don’t know where the idea that rubbing muscles would squeeze out undesirables came from but it has been and still is believed by many, many practitioners and clients. If massaging muscles is supposed to squeeze out the bad stuff, why does the body keep the good? Where does all this bad stuff go? Many answer “pee and poop.” On the one hand, yes, the body rids waste through excrement and it’s possible to move bowels with abdominal massage. This is not an accurate description of “removing toxins with massage.” All of the excrement will find its way out of the body with or without massage or other products. “Toxins” and such are filtered through the liver. Piling on lots of pills/vitamins may not be the answer.

To protect your wallet and avoid possible side-effects remember to ask important questions about the body. Grab a basic A&P book to familiarize yourself with how the systems of the body function. Arm yourself with real knowledge so you can look through marketing material and make an informed decision. You may still want to try the product. That’s OK. Not all the products are bad. I mainly want to bring attention to the misuse of certain words.

The 30 Minute Massage

Most folks opt for the hour-long massage session. It’s great for many people. What about you? Are you hesitant to get a massage because you don’t want a whole hour? You have another option. The 30 Minute Massage may be the service for you.

Why schedule a 30 minute massage?

  • You are on a tight schedule and cannot spend a whole hour plus drive time getting a massage.
  • Your budget will allow you more frequent massages if you choose the shorter service.
  • Your body has a few aches and pains you’d like worked on but it hurts to lay still for an hour.
  • The killer headache you’ve been fighting for 2 days could be relieved immensely in a short time.
  • You like specific work on your shoulders/neck, or lower back/legs, or hands/feet.
  • You are only able to get massages on your lunch break and 30 minutes works out great.

Don’t think you can’t get a massage if you don’t want a whole hour. Whatever the reason, you can choose a 30 minute service and achieve decent results. In fact, some issues/complaints may only need 30 minutes for relief.

20130628_124140

What results could happen with a 30 minute massage?

  • If you are suffering from a muscle tension headache then a 30 minute massage on your neck, shoulders, pecs, scalp, and face *could* dramatically decrease your pain. And improve your mood.
  • You’ve been cranky and irritable for a few days due to work related stress. Popping in for a 30 minute massage on your lunch break *could* send you back into the world with more of a smile on your face. It’s just enough time to work out muscle tension while giving your mind some space. (Tell me you don’t want your hair mussed and I’ll take care around your neck/head.)
  • You have anxiety so you worry for the whole hour and don’t enjoy your massage. Tell me. I will understand. We can schedule shorter sessions. You can tell me exactly what area needs worked on a particular day and I won’t waste your time. You won’t have to worry I won’t work on your neck because I’m taking time on your feet. You tell me what to skip and what to massage.
  • Your teenage athlete has been complaining of aches and pains more often. You worry an hour may be too much time or they may not be comfortable with the long session. We can schedule a short session to address any concerns you may have. (And you can be in the room with us, too.)
  • A 30 minute massage is a smart choice for someone curious but nervous about getting his/her first massage. You can use it as an ice-breaker. And when you love it you won’t be as nervous the next time.

A 30 minute massage may be what you need. Contact me or schedule online.

Anxiety and Massage

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.

anxiety_amp2014 (1)

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.

 

Ask questions

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.