Worrisome Wellness Words


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 My instructors had no idea they were teaching outdated information.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.


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.

Should I Tip For the Massage?

“Should I tip my massage therapist?”

You’ve seen this question in magazine articles and internet posts. Usually this topic is lumped in a list: should you tip your hairdresser, doorman, massage therapist, dog groomer, etc.? Sometimes the writers offer really good advice based on cost, location, and ownership.

Here’s my answer for you if you are wondering if you should tip me or not:

Whatever you decide is perfect.

I set a reasonable price for an awesome service. The price you pay for your massage is “enough” payment to me. I don’t solicit or expect anyone to pay more than what I charge for a massage. Some people tip every time. Others tip when they’ve been late or had to reschedule last minute. Many people don’t tip at all. Each and every transaction is right.

Your choice!
Your choice!

Money can be tight. If adding a tip to your massage makes it difficult to keep regular, pain-relieving massage a priority, please keep the tip. Put those dollars toward your next appointment! I would rather you be able to come in regularly than agonize over a few dollars and a sore neck.

Take the pressure off yourself! If tipping isn’t your thing I won’t even notice. What’s the saying?
“Never expected, always appreciated.”

Why Does My Stomach Grumble in a Massage?

Working as a massage therapist  I’ve learned how to pick up on subtle clues from you to see how the treatment is going. Sometimes you let out an audible sigh with a small smile. Often you tell me, “That feels good right there.” Or “you found the sore spot!”

Other signs of relaxation or enjoyment are not easy to see. Slowed breathing, un-clenched hands, and un-tensing muscles aren’t shining beacons of light to the untrained eye, but they are all things I pay attention to. I want you to be relaxed on the massage table. You should be comfortable and able to rest during your massage. Most of the time your body will settle in to the work and I can see or feel it.

Headache relief with scalp massage
Headache relief with scalp massage

Sometimes I can even hear your body switch from un-relaxed to relaxed. Yep, that’s right. I can hear your body begin to rest. And so can you! Actually, many of you make a comment about this not-so-subtle sign of rest: “I’m so sorry my stomach is growling, I’m not even hungry! It’s so loud.”

This is how I know your body is comfortably resting.

Your body’s autonomic nervous system has three divisions: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric. The sympathetic nervous system is commonly associated with the “fight or flight” response. It’s not uncommon to be in a state of fight or flight during the work-day. You are dealing with stress, driving, meeting deadlines, etc. Your body isn’t usually “at rest” while working. Your energy is used in your activities.

The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with “rest and digest.”

Certain bodily functions happen while at rest: salivation, urination, defecation, and digestion. Your body’s digestive system begins working when you rest or relax. What happens when the digestive system works? It moves and makes grumble-y/growl-y noises!*

Almost every single massage client I’ve worked on this past decade has experienced a grumble-y stomach.

I can even pin-point when your stomach will growl: half-way through the treatment. Sometimes it happens earlier, sometimes later, but it almost always happens. And I smile because I know your autonomic nervous system is responding how you want and need it to.

Your body needs time to “rest and digest.” What better way than with a massage? Please, don’t be embarrassed by your growling stomach, it’s how I know I’m doing a good job!


National Relaxation Day!

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.

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.

Relaxation Massage
Relaxation Massage

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:

  • Spend part of the day alone.
  • Spend part of the day with your family, doing ONLY fun stuff.
  • Meditate
  • Devote time to your hobby.
  • Sleep in. Or get up extra early. Whichever excites you!
  • Arrange for take-out or pre-cooked meals all day.
  • Schedule a massage!
  • If you’ve always wanted a day to “not leave the house” today’s the day! Wake when you wish, eat when you’re hungry, stay in your jammies and read a book.

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!

PS If you can’t make it happen on the 15th, choose a day that works for you and have FUN!

Back Massage

Shoulder massage relieves muscle tension or fatigue.

Tension headache-sufferers benefit greatly from regular shoulder and neck massage.

Slow movements relax the mind to enhance the massage experience.

Back and shoulder massage for pain relief
Back and shoulder massage for pain relief

Heat for Neck Tension

A heated dry towel behind the neck soothes tension out of neck muscles.

Melt deeper into relaxation.

Heat prepares the muscles for a gently firm neck massage.


Soothing heat nestles the head and neck

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness

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.

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.