We Carry Our Children

We carry our children, don’t we? We carry them in our body, cradling them in safe, warm darkness with the rhythm of our heartbeats a steady comfort.

We carry them in our arms, cradling their head in the crook of our arm, firmly pressing their little bodies to our breast. The darkness is gone but the rhythm of our heartbeat remains a constant, our caress still warm and safe.

We carry them on our hips, their heads held high with shining smiles. Our heartbeats remain close, chest to chest, cheek to cheek. Our grip tightens with added healthy growth.

We carry them to bed. We carry them to the laundry room. We carry them to the store. We carry them to church. We carry them on walks. We carry them to the doctor. We carry them to grandparents.

We carry them where ever we go.

It never seems to hurt at the time. We do it so much we don’t really feel it. We just carry them.

Maybe it’s difficult to rise up out of a chair. Maybe it’s a struggle to get comfortable in the bed. Maybe the bending to pick them up is painful. But we don’t really feel it, do we?***

***This may be where you expect me to say, “Put the baby down.” Each mother/family has her/its own way of taking care of baby. I would never presume to tell a baby-wearer to put her baby down or suggest that babies don’t need to be held. However, I know that taking care of a baby is physically and emotionally demanding so I won’t act like I have all the answers. There are many bouncers and swings to hold a small baby for short periods of time. There are also baby-carrying slings. Or maybe someone there can do the chore while you snuggle the baby? Maybe there is someone there to snuggle the baby while you do the chore? I can’t tell anyone that they should put their baby down. All I have are some basic self-care suggestions.

  • Try to switch sides with the baby often so you aren’t bearing the weight on only one side.
  • Try different carriers or slings that work well with you and your baby.
  • Try to rest when you can. (This one may be laughable to some, but I have to say it.)
  • Try squatting to pick up your child instead of stooping over.
  • Stretch your muscles. Is there a gym nearby? Join a yoga class or buy a DVD.
  • Take a walk by yourself. And swing your arms while you do it. Move, move, move the arms since you hold them in one position so often.
  • Self-massage. Check out this post.
  • Professional massage.

Any parents out there with other suggestions on how to relieve aches and pains from carrying our children?

#19 of the Business Blogging Challenge: #31 posts in 31 days

 

Are You Comfortable?

Are you comfortable?

“Yes.”

Are you really? Because sometimes I don’t know if you are comfortable or just trying to be polite because I want you to be comfortable. I really want to know the honest answer. How can I change things to make you super comfy and relaxed if I don’t know?

I put tremendous effort into how my massage treatment room is set up. The lighting is carefully crafted to be somewhat low yet bright enough I can see you clearly. Sheets are clean and fresh, smoothed under a light blanket for a little warmth and security. Music is soft. You can even smell lavender as you position yourself on the massage table. I lay on the massage table at least once a week to see if it is comfortable and relaxing.

But I’m not you. My bones are my bones and my skin is my skin. Your aches may be in a different area of the body than mine. My level of comfort is not the same as yours.

If you are not comfortable and you don’t tell me I can’t try to make it better.

Is the face rest tilted too high or too low? It’s adjustable! I can click it and we can make you more comfortable. Easy fix. Is the extra layer of cover just a little too much today? Is it making you sweat or uncomfortable? A simple, “I’m a little hot today,” and I will remove the blanket. You still have the sheet. Easy peasy.

Do you hate spa/meditation music but think that’s the only thing you are allowed to listen to because you are getting a relaxing massage? I can change the music. I keep a variety of music on hand just in case you feel like rocking out during your session.

Hot towels can be too hot and I really need to know if they are. I use a warmer specifically made for towels, but they can get pretty hot sometimes. I always unravel them and shake them out to cool them before they touch your body, but I can’t feel what you feel. I ask you if they are too hot and I need an honest answer.

If I say “Are you comfortable?” and you are lying on your stomach and it’s crushing your chest, hurting your neck, or pulling your low back please don’t answer “yes.” You deserve the best massage treatment and lying there uncomfortable or even in pain isn’t going to help you one bit. We can adjust your position at any time during your massage session. You are the boss of your body.

I have pillows and a side-lying positioning system to accommodate anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to be flat on his/her stomach or back during a massage. The massage will be just as effective in the side position. Plus, if you are more comfortable the whole experience will be more enjoyable. You will be able to experience more of the wonderful benefits of massage therapy if you are more comfortable and not trying to hold back.

The truth is sometimes I can tell if you are uncomfortable and that is why I ask. But if you don’t tell me then I just have to guess at what I can change. Please know that you can trust me enough to tell me if you are uncomfortable. Massage is supposed to be enjoyable. If you feel cramped and smooshed and irritated then it probably won’t help with your pain relief. If you are counting down the seconds until it’s time to turn over it’s time to speak up! You’re the boss!

It isn’t rude or impolite to tell your massage therapist if you are uncomfortable.

You won’t hurt my feelings. It won’t make me angry or irritated. I won’t roll my eyes. I will smile and suggest ways to move to get you more comfortable.

#17 of the Business Blogging Challenge 31 posts in 31 days

3 Pains in the Neck

Does your neck hurt more days than it doesn’t? Maybe you’ve tried to adjust some things in your daily life to make it better but the pain just doesn’t go away. Are you looking in the right place for the source of your neck pain? Let’s see:

  1. Smart-phone-itis. Yes, I made that word up. But look at how you are holding your phone to read this or some other article. Extended time on Candy Crush reading news articles with your phone either in your lap or half-way to your lap puts a strain on your neck muscles. Pay attention, you are clenching your shoulder muscles! The front of your neck probably hurts, too.
  2. Laptop neck-opathy. Yep, another made-up word 🙂  You’ve taken my advice and adjusted your workstation monitor and keyboard but you’ve forgotten about the recreational computer. Do you sit on the sofa with the laptop in your lap? Body check! Your head is pulled forward, shoulders rolled down and your lower back is straining, yes? Sit up! Grab a pillow or two to put between the computer and your lap. Depending on what the back of your seat is like you may want to put support behind your neck. You don’t want your head pulling forward. Adjust however you can until you no longer feel that you are tensing your whole upper body.
  3. Slumpy McSlumperson. Tee hee. I promise no more made up words today. Extended hours at a desktop computer may be unavoidable at work. You’ve adjusted your monitor now straighten yourself up! Remember way back in middle school when your keyboarding teacher told you how to sit? Do that! Sit in a way that you are not hurting! Put both feet on the floor, not crossed. If you have short legs put some kind of lift or stool under your feet. Less strain on your whole upper body this way. Don’t slump. (see name) When you roll your shoulders forward and slump over your breathing quality is lowered, your muscles are strained and you become fatigued more easily. Straighten up, butter-cup! Pull your shoulders back and lift your head. Do you strain your head down to see your monitor? Move it. Move it to wherever you can hold your head reasonably straight.

Could these be causing you neck pain? How can you adjust what you do each day to improve your pain levels? Take frequent breaks at work. Take 60 seconds to stand up, yawn, move your shoulders around then get back to work. Move around when you feel uncomfortable. Put your phone down a little. Your eyes and neck will thank you!

Got a bad case of smart-phone-itis? Massage can help!

#16 of the Business Blogging Challenge: 31 posts in 31 days

Can I Get a Massage While Pregnant?

Can I get a massage while pregnant?

YES! Oops, did I yell? Sorry. I’m just very passionate about pain and stress relief and just happen to really love working with pregnant women. Expectant mothers experience amazing physical changes each and every week. And they still have to work, cook, parent, walk and just “be.”

I’m not sure where this myth started, “You can’t get massage while pregnant” but I don’t like it. It’s one thing when your grandmother or the cashier at the grocery store suggests you skip your massage appointment, but there are still massage professionals who believe this way. I just really don’t understand. Fear, maybe? Lack of knowledge and information about the physiological benefits of pregnancy massage? More than likely.

Yes, you most certainly can receive massages while you are pregnant. You can even get massage in the first trimester if you wish. (Another myth busted right there.) Some massage schools teach that you can’t get massage in the first trimester because of a risk of miscarriage. The more I research that and discuss with highly trained professionals the more I see that for what it is: a precaution. Massage won’t cause a miscarriage in the first trimester but many therapists try to avoid it because very often an early miscarriage cannot be explained and they don’t want to be blamed for it. Many spas and franchises have a “no first trimester rule.” If you don’t live near me to get massage and the place you want to go won’t see you in the first trimester, don’t lie to them. Be honest, they are only trying to be safe even if they are a bit misinformed.

Massage is beneficial throughout every stage of pregnancy. This study shows that “women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain.” You could also have a shorter, less-painful labor and delivery. Doesn’t that sound good?

Of course there are changes to be made to your massage session. First of all you won’t be face-down on the massage table. I use several pillows to achieve safe comfort. You will fill out a pregnancy health intake form each visit. We will discuss your doctor/midwife visits to see how your pregnancy is going. I will ask you about any aches and pains you might be having. And then I will rub them!

I always ask that you inform your doctor/midwife that massage is part of your life. Partly so we can work together if a complication arises and also so they know you are taking care of yourself. There are some conditions that may arise when I’ll ask that you talk with your doctor/midwife before continuing treatment. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, excessive swelling, bleeding, and early labor are all conditions that I would want special instructions from your doctor.

Don’t freak out. What’s that saying going around the internet? “Keep Calm and (fill in the blank.)” Well I say, “Keep Calm and Get Massage.”

This is #5 in a blogging challenge: 31 posts in 31 days.

The Pregnant Zone

The body goes through so many changes during pregnancy that it can feel like you’ve been taken over by a body snatcher. Your emotions are all over the place. You’re excited, scared and anxious about the changes in your body. AND you have a person growing inside of you. You certainly don’t need people freaking you out about the things you do.

“Don’t eat spicy foods,” “don’t have sex,” “don’t color your hair,” “don’t drink caffeine,” “don’t get a massage,” “don’t walk!” “don’t run!” “don’t hold in your farts or your eyes will pop out and your baby will be born naked!”

OK, I made that last one up.  If you are or ever have been expecting a child  you know  anyone and everyone word vomits unsolicited advice. Do this, don’t do that. You’re not big enough, you’re too big. Eat xyz but don’t drink abc.  Smile and thank them kindly and then ask your OB/GYN or midwife about any REAL health questions you have.

Pregnancy and Massage

There are many myths and old wives tales when it comes to pregnancy and massage therapy. Have you heard any of these? (Some of them may only be discussed between other massage professionals, but we’ll discuss them anyway.)

  • Don’t massage a pregnant woman’s feet.
  • If you push on her ankles she’ll go into labor!
  • You can’t get a massage during the first trimester.
  • You can’t have deep tissue work during pregnancy.
  • You can’t get massage at all during pregnancy.

As if you aren’t anxious enough now you have people and professionals telling you things like this? I’d probably skip massages, too! All this misinformation gets me ragey.  I meet a young mother-to-be whose lower back hurts.  Her husband buys her a massage appointment but she’s so nervous she can barely lay down. She almost jumps from the table when I gently caress her feet! She’s afraid because someone told her that she would go into labor if her feet were rubbed. If she doesn’t tell me her fear then I can’t tell her that it’s an old wive’s tale. We can’t discuss how the body works and that a simple, gentle foot massage isn’t going to cause her baby to join us in the massage room.

Yes, there are some safety concerns during pregnancy massage. Are there places that shouldn’t be rubbed? Yes. Are there risks? Yes, but an educated and informed massage therapist will modify any and all treatments to accommodate the physical changes as well as the physiological changes in your body. That’s what we’ll talk about for a day or two.

The pregnancy myths will cover more than one post. I want to make sure I share the right information. I want you to ask me any question you may have. Tell me some things you’ve heard along the way.

#4 of the Business Blogging Challenge: 31 posts in 31 days

Lactic Acid: It’s Time for the Truth

Fact or Fiction?

“Lactic acid makes your muscles sore for a few days after a vigorous work-out.”

Fiction. What?! Yep, that’s not what causes muscle soreness. Tiny tears on the muscle and inflammation is believed to be the cause of after work-out pain.  Are you ready for more? Massage does NOT “flush” lactic acid out of your muscles. There, I said it out loud.

This could be a shock to many of you, dear clients, since many massage therapists, coaches, teachers, trainers and even sports announcers  still speak this as the truth. When I attended massage school I heard this phrase many times a day, “You need to flush the lactic acid out of the muscles.” I didn’t question this much, after all I’d heard all my life  the aforementioned myths. My instructors weren’t intentionally giving my false information, they absolutely believed what they were saying. They were teaching what they had been taught. (I feel no ill will toward them, I just really should have questioned things more.)

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Research has given us a better idea of this “lactic acid” stuff. Thought for many years to be a waste product, we are learning that lactate or “lactic acid” is actually a fuel used by the body in a vigorous work-out. This article from Runner’s World gives a great explanation about how the body uses glucose and lactate for energy. And, hot dang, the body might actually prefer lactate!

So the the next time you “feel the burn” don’t curse the lactic acid you’re surely building up because your muscles are using it as fuel. And about that whole “Massage flushes lactic acid out of sore muscles” thing, research findings suggest that the lactate is actually gone from the muscle within an hour or so. Hmm. That means the massage you get the next day isn’t doing anything with lactate.  Talk about interesting! This article from the New York Times talks a bit about lactic acid, too.

Two days after your Cross Fit torture work-out when you are limping along with tight hammies you’ll know that it’s little tiny muscle tears that are hurting, not the evil lactic acid. Two days after the work-out while you’re receiving the most wonderful recovery massage you can feel confident that your massage therapist (ahem, me) isn’t trying to wring some weird substance from your muscle fibers. She’s rubbing your tired, sore muscles, soothing them into relaxation and helping them to prepare for the next go-round.

Did I blow your mind? Do you have questions? Ask away! What have you heard about work-outs and sore muscles?

PS If you are trying the Cross Fit, Cross Train, 5K/Half/Whole Marathon thing in the Paris, Arkansas area: woo hoo! Congrats and more power to ya! Give me a call so we can discuss if you want massage therapy as part of your training.

#3 in the Business Blogging Challenge: 31 posts in 31 days

Between the Bones (A poem)

Warm oil, warm hands.

Steady pressure, just this deep.

Long, slow thumb-slide

along the bony blade.

Slides slowly along between the bones,

The bones which landmark the way.

Flow right through the fibers

like a canoe floating a stream.

Steady pressure, just this deep.

Long, slow thumb-slide.

Long and slow to calm the way.

Slow over the bumpy waves.

Steady to calm the way.

Long, slow thumb-slide.

Steady pressure, just this deep.

Over and over, up and again

Slowly between the bones,

The bones which landmark the way.

Long, slow thumb-slide.

Steady pressure, just this deep.

Spring Time Yard Work

Warmer temperatures and sunny skies tend to coax people outdoors during the springtime. We want to tidy up our yards and create beautiful landscape scenes for our homes. And there aren’t too many things quite as delicious as vegetables grown in your back yard watered with the sweat from your brow 🙂

These spring time activities can be very rewarding! Gardening and yard-work can also make your aches and pains flare up a bit. Do a little bit of planning and time-management to help fend off unwanted injury and pain.

Raking leaves

  • Wear gloves to prevent blisters on your hands.
  • Wear socks and shoes to protect your feet and ankles from scratches and insects.
  • Take breaks.

Pulling weeds

  • If possible, get down on the ground instead of stooping over. Your back will thank you. 
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from scratches.
  • Take breaks, stand up to move around occasionally.

Mowing

  • Have a riding lawn mower? Good for you! Just be careful 🙂
  • Push mowing? Wear socks and shoes to protect your feet.
  • Go slow and steady, no need to be in a hurry.
  • If you have a hilly landscape your legs will be working extra hard. Pay attention to your body and rest when needed.

All of these chores are great exercise. You’ll build up a sweat and work different muscle groups. Try not to do everything in one day, or you’ll be sore in the morning. Make a plan and use your clock to work. Set a timer while you work, when it goes off take a water break, grab a snack or move to a different chore to give your body a break.

When you’re  grooming your beautiful landscape reward yourself with a hot shower, a nap, then schedule a massage! You deserve it!

Do you like to work outside? Flower beds or vegetable garden?

 

 

How to Paint Your Ceiling Without Killing Your Neck

The last time you painted ceilings did you end up in painful misery? Did your neck and shoulders feel like a burning pit of agony? Yeah, mine, too. Until I adjusted how I held my body and arms while I painted. You, too, can change the look of your home without injuring your neck and actually having the energy to finish the job!

How to paint your ceiling without killing your neck.

1. Use a tall ladder, not a step stool. Put your paint tray on the tray holder instead of trying to hold it.

2. KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS RELAXED. I think this is the most important step. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class (or any other kind of work-out) you’ve likely heard the instructions “Keep your shoulders relaxed” or “Relax your shoulders.” Until you’ve really figured out that you are, indeed, shrugging you won’t understand this statement. It’s the shrugging and tensing of the top of the shoulders that causes quite a bit of the pain from painting. Just bring them down. Concentrate on letting gravity hold your shoulders away from your ears. It works. The muscles in your shoulders won’t tense up or cramp up so easily this way. If you are working and feel your shoulders burn just ask yourself, “Where are my shoulders?” Tell yourself to bring them down. You will feel a sense of relief every time you un-tense the tops of your shoulders.

3. Don’t over-stretch your paint strokes. Your arms will only reach so far. Paint the area you can comfortably reach from your ladder and then step down carefully and move the ladder. This is also a great time for the next step:

4. Take frequent breaks. Now, I don’t mean get down, sit around, watch TV and take a nap. I mean bring your arm down. Stretch for a minute. Do some shoulder rotations and neck rolls. Every time you get down to move the ladder you are resting your neck. Simply add about a minute of stretching and movement.  You’ll be ready for the next area of ceiling.

5. Listen to sing-along music. If you dread your task you should take steps to make it as fun or un-dreadful as possible. I chose music to help me. Sing at the top of your lungs. Bounce to the beat and be-bop your way to fully painted ceilings. Does it make the paint look better? Maybe not. But it makes the minutes that slowly tick off the clock a little bit more fun.

Do you have some helpful tips to painting ceilings or walls? Please share this with others, you never know who might need to un-shrug!

Stress Awareness Month!

April is Stress Awareness Month! Why did she use an exclamation point, you ask? Well, I was trying to add some cheer 🙂

What is Awareness, exactly?

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need anyone to point out to me when I’m stressed out. I feel it, you know. It’s in my head and spreads throughout my body if I’m not careful. I know when I’m irritable, cranky, tired and fatigued. I can assure you that if someone pointed out to me that I was cranky the “awareness” wouldn’t improve the situation! So what is this “awareness?”

I think it is a great time to share some ideas for Stress Relief. They should change the name to Stress Relief Awareness Month! We know we are stressed, we need help relieving it!

What are some ways to relieve stress?

Massage. Yes, I put this first but I think it is a vital and wonderful method to ease the stress of the mind as well as the body. Massage therapy addresses more than one or two ways that stress can affect the body. Soft music, low lights, no talking, resting while someone rubs your back and places that may hurt. It’s relaxing. It feels good. And it relieves painful symptoms. Oh, and massage is GREAT at relieving headaches.

Exercise. Elevating the heart rate, moving, shaking, walking, running, dancing, yoga and sports are all forms of stress relief. A good sweat seems to clear the mind sometimes. Nothing but you and the pavement, step-step-step-step. Or a class full of friends dancing, sweating and laughing to better health. Maybe a pick-up game of softball, basketball or volleyball with friends is your way to unwind. Any of these things is going to relieve stress, improve your mood and even provide your body with benefits of healthy exercise.

Gardening/yard work. Yes, some forms of stress relief can have the word “work” in them. I’m not the gardening type, but I know many, many people who LOVE to bury their hands in the dirt. There is satisfaction in planting a seed or bulb, tending and cultivating, and then watching it transform into something beautiful. Plus it’s a great opportunity to get your hands dirty, do repetitive tasks, hang out by yourself and be outside. Some people like the results of their work, while others just enjoy the solitude and dirt. Either way some stress is being relieved and your body appreciates it!

Arts/Crafts. Splashing paint on some canvas just sounds fun! You may enjoy making things, crafting things, scrapbooking or photography. Making something out of nothing can be very fun and rewarding. If you are creating something then maybe, just maybe your brain gets a rest from the work/family/stress thoughts that seem to get stuck in your head. Again, relief. And fun!

These aren’t the only ways to relieve stress. I plan to write about more all month long. Meanwhile, what are some fun or creative things you do to relieve stress? Please share so we may try them 🙂