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Massage and Wellness

Wellness Blog



A client of mine sent this to me.  It is a wonderful account of what a therapist learned about people and herself.  A message of empowerment and self acceptance.  Do yourself a favor and read it.  "What I learned from 50 Naked People" by K. Bartolotta.




I facilitate at Murfreesboro Meditation on Wednesday nights and I needed a way to show how thoughts can clutter the mind much like a lake that has been stirred up.  With "silt and debris" floating about and making the normally clear water "muddy" and difficult to SEE through.  This homemade snow globe seemed like an easy thing to make.  I've used it for focusing on and calming my own stirred up mind....noticing how the glitter slows down and falls to the bottom if I don't "shake things up" again.  Just as my thoughts do when I don't latch on to them and follow other thoughts and "stories/dramas" that my mind tends to make up.  As with the clear water in the jar and lake...our minds are clear and calm and stress free.  There is a deep, quite, balanced inner space that we can all connect to when we learn how to free ourselves from our stories.  I also have heard that this is a good way to calm young children....being used as a "time out" timer.  Mason jar with tight lid, bottled water, glycerin (just a few drops), lots of glitter!  Great project to make with your friends/children.


The Benefits Of Massage
What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

A Powerful Ally
There's no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.

Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Furthermore, clients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.

Profound Effects
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.

Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits
Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you'll be and how youthful you'll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn't mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

Review the clinical research studies examining the benefits of massage.

Review massage information from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.


Color Your Plate Healthy

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolution?

Every year millions of Americans make resolutions on January 1st. Many of them have something to do with improving health and wellness. But by February 1st a majority of those resolutions have gone right out the window.

Since 1980 the American Dietetic Associate has been providing a gentle springtime reminder by celebrating National Nutrition Month in March. Each year there is a theme to help us eat better and be healthier. This year’s theme is “Eat Right with Color.”

So how does it work?

Think back to your last meal. How many colors were on your plate? If you answered 4 or 5, then congrats! You are eating right with color.

If you answered 1 or 2, then let’s talk:

Mother Nature has a habit of putting lots of healthy vitamins and minerals into foods that grow in the dirt, but did you know she took the trouble to color-code them for our convenience?

  • green foods contain antioxidants and nutrients that promote healthy vision
  • orange and deep yellow foods also help promote healthy vision, plus they contain vitamins that boost your immune system
  • purple and blue foods contain antioxidants that provide anti-aging benefits, plus they help with memory, and urinary tract health
  • red foods are good for heart health, vision, and your immune system
  • some white, tan, and brown foods have nutrients that promote heart health
  • bonus: each of these colors also help reduce your risk of cancer!

Of course, these aren’t the only benefits to eating a more colorful, plant-based diet. These kinds of foods also provide a good source of fiber, a boost in mental function, and tons of other feel-good perks.

So load up those plates with color and let’s celebrate good nutrition all year long!

How are you going to eat more colors this month?


A Health Coach Today Keeps The Doctor Away

In the last century modern medicine has made incredible breakthroughs in the treatments of some of our worst diseases. So why are Americans still very sick?

According to American Diabetes Association in 2011, 8.3% of the population has diabetes. That means 25.8 million people in the United States suffer from a largely preventable disease. And they are not alone. High blood pressure, asthma, and other diseases are also preventable and highly treatable.

Why, then, are doctors stuck in a tug-o-war with their patients’ diseases? A recent New York Times article laments the fact that the evidence based practices that many doctors use do not translate well into patients’ day-to-day lives. Part of the disconnect is that evidence based medicine treats the disease, but not the whole person. Some patients do not listen to their doctor’s advice out of stubbornness, but most people simply need more guidance than a list of dos and don’ts.

Evidence based practices treat human beings like a science experiment. However, there is another very important side of the healing process: the human element. It’s hard to make and maintain meaningful changes in diet and lifestyle while the rest of the world continues on unchanged.

Enter Health Coaches. A Health Coach can, show you how to cook, take you grocery shopping and help support you in finding a healthy lifestyle and strategy that works for YOU. Health Coaches do not teach a one-size-fits-all program, they cater to what your goals are and what your body needs.

Many diseases can be partially treated, or have symptoms eased, through diet and exercise. People need to know that they don’t have to choose between being sick and eating cardboard-like diet foods. A Health Coach can demonstrate how to prepare delicious meals that will lead to wellness and healing.

We desperately need our doctors and Health Coaches to help heal and prevent disease to ease the pressure on our overburdened health care system. More importantly, it will make us a happier, healthier society.



Bodywork Etiquette
Guidelines To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Session


By Karrie Osborn


Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter Copyright 2008. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Most massage aficionados remember the trepidation that came with their first massage. What should I expect? Will I have to take off my clothes? How much do I tip?

For relative newcomers to massage, the prospect of those first visits and their unknowns can be unnerving. Here are some basic bodywork etiquette guidelines to help you get the most out of your session, create a healthy client-therapist relationship, and address some of those unknowns.

Punctuality = Full Session
There's nothing worse than rushing into your massage appointment five minutes late. Not only is it nerve-racking, but it also eats into your valuable massage minutes. Do your best to be on time, and when possible, early. On-time clients start the massage more relaxed and focused, getting them that much closer to a place of healing calm.

When scheduling at a spa, most guests are asked to arrive early so they can prepare for their session and stow away belongings in the locker room. Arriving early enough also allows you time to enjoy the facility's amenities, such as a steam room, before the scheduled service begins. New massage clients are also asked to arrive a bit early to fill out health history intake forms.

If you do get held up in traffic and arrive late to your appointment, the therapist will probably not be able to give you a full session. Plan on the session staying on schedule, even if you aren't. Sometimes therapists will extend extra time if there are no appointments after yours, but don't count on it. Respect your therapist's time, call if you're going to be late, and understand that your session must end on time, regardless of when you arrived.

When it comes to cancellations, most spas and private practitioners require a 24-hour notice to avoid fees. Outside of an emergency situation, last-minute cancellations or missed appointments usually result in paying a percentage, or all, of the scheduled massage fee. Your therapist earmarked that hour for you and likely turned away other clients who could have benefited from that time. Every situation is different, so check with your therapist about his or her specific cancellation policy, then honor it.

Honor Your Body
Some people have a hard time even considering massage because they are so unhappy with their body. Primarily a female issue, poor body image can be extremely damaging, leading to eating disorders in many cases and negatively affecting the way people live. While it's hard to imagine that getting naked and lying on a massage table will make the situation any better for those dealing with self-esteem or body image issues, massage therapy and bodywork can do wonders.

According to bodyworker Merrill DeVito, massage helps integrate body and mind again, allowing clients to see things from different perspectives, bringing them back into awareness of their body, and showing them what it means to listen to their body. Bodywork can help mend the body-mind chasm that is created through self-hate, bringing the two pieces back together in a peaceful, healthy union.
Massage therapists and bodyworkers not only have advanced knowledge of tissues and structure, they also have a great appreciation for the human body as a whole, no matter its shape or size. "Massage therapists and bodyworkers don't look at their clients as fat, thin, ugly, or beautiful, but rather see the person as a joy and a privilege with which to work," says spa consultant Charles Wiltsie. Whether working with a 350-pound woman on the massage table or a 100-pound man, massage therapists see bodies as bodies.

Shower Up
While most guidelines recommend showering before your massage, it's important to note that many therapists work with clients in less-than-hygienic conditions. Throughout the summer, you'll find massage therapists at cycling events, road races, and even triathlons. A weary cyclist staggering into the massage therapy tent at the end of an exhausting day's ride hardly smells like roses. For massage volunteers who work with the homeless population, judgment is not passed on those non-showered bodies either.

That said, if you find that your feet have endured a long sweaty day and you're just about to go in for your massage, take a moment to stop in the restroom first and wipe them down. And, if you're able to shower beforehand and wash away the grime and energy of the day's events, do so.

Consider Confidentiality
Even though massage therapists aren't medical doctors, nor are they held to the same doctor-patient privilege, they do hold their knowledge of you, your issues, and your sessions in confidence. If for some reason your therapist needs to confer with your primary or referring physician, he or she will have you fill out the proper release paperwork beforehand. That same confidence prevents therapists from talking with you about your friend's recent stone massage or what your husband discussed during his last session. So, make it easier for all, and don't ask.

Get It Your Way
If there's one thing that will make your massage both more enjoyable and more beneficial, it's communicating with your therapist. If the room is too warm, if the bolster under your legs isn't in the right spot, if the music is driving you batty--whatever the issue--let your therapist know right away so you can get back to the business of enjoying your massage. "By all means, you should speak up about anything that diminishes your enjoyment of, or ability to focus on, your session," says Nina McIntosh, massage ethics expert and author of The Educated Heart. Wiltsie agrees. "Communication is key to getting your needs met," he says. Clients must take the lead and let therapists know if a particular treatment or something else within the session is making them uncomfortable.

Your therapist will occasionally check in with you during your session, checking on pressure and making sure you're doing okay. Be sure and let the therapist know if you're not feeling well, if that spot on your calf is too tender, or even if you can't hold your need for a bathroom break any longer.

Sobriety, Please
In resort settings, it can be especially hard to step away from icy margaritas on the beach to make that afternoon spa appointment. But the last thing you want is to be "tipsy" on the massage table. There are several downsides to being under the influence during a massage, the most important being how alcohol plays havoc with the body's systems. Combine that with the increased circulation from massage and you have increased absorption rates, potentially making you nauseous or outright "losing-my-cookies" sick. That's no fun and a waste of good massage time and money. In fact, many massage therapists will refuse to work on clients who are intoxicated. Leave the alcohol for another time. Water, before and after a therapeutic massage, is what the body really wants.

Nope, Won't Find That Here
It's unfortunate that massage therapists even have to address this subject, but they do. So the answer to late-night callers is, "No, we don't give happy endings. No, you may not pleasure yourself. Therapeutic massage has nothing to do with sex."
If a misinformed client somehow ends up in the massage room of a professional therapist and asks for something other than therapeutic massage, they will be asked to leave. Flirting, inappropriate touching, and sexual innuendos will not be tolerated. Keep the relationship professional and above board and your therapist will be a valuable member of your healthcare team.

You're Human
The body can have a lot of responses to therapeutic massage. While avoiding food at least one hour before your massage will help, there's still the chance that you'll have tummy gurgles or even pass gas. It's okay. As the body relaxes and systems get moving, the body can play all kinds of tricks. Your therapist has seen it all, yet sees well beyond those kinds of issues.

For men, there's even a possibility that massage will cause an erection--a common response to nervous system activation. "It rarely occurs, but if it does, don't panic," says massage therapist and author Robert Chute. "Therapists know that this is a physiological reaction and will treat the situation accordingly." He says the therapist might try to redirect your attention with a shift in the focus of the work, maybe altering pressure or moving to a different area of the body. Don't worry, Chute says, "Your unintended erection, and any embarrassment, will soon pass."

Time To Wake Up
While your therapist would like nothing more than to let you slumber after your massage, other massage clients will be arriving soon and the room must be readied for them. So when your therapist ends the massage and says, "Our session is over. Take your time getting up," they are really saying, "Take your time getting up, but please don't take a nap."

They are also reminding you to take a moment as you come back to the here and now. Carefully sit up, allowing your body enough time to readjust. Go too fast and your body will knock you for a dizzying loop. Also, be careful not to slip getting off the massage table, especially if your therapist used oil on your feet.

Tipping Tips
When it comes to gratuities, most experts say it's ultimately the client's decision whether or not to tip. Like in other service industries, providing a tip is usually done in response to excellent service. In considering this, it's important to note that many therapists who work in spas earn only a small percentage of what you've paid for their services. For these therapists, tips are an important part of their income. According to, the tipping norm for massage and bodywork services is 15-20 percent. Tips, however, are usually not accepted for massage performed in a medical environment.

Unsure what to do? Ask if tipping is customary and what is the policy. This is especially important when booking at spas, according to the Day Spa Association, as tips might already be included in the service price. Be sure to get clarification on fees and services at the time of booking.

Karrie Osborn is contributing editor for Body Sense magazine. Contact her at