Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have a massage every day of the week? Sadly, most of us don’t have the time or the money to indulge in quite such a regular massage routine, but we can make the most of massage treatments by taking care of ourselves in between massages.
First rule – drink the water!
There’s a reason why your therapist gives you a refreshing glass of cool water after a treatment; it’s to help hydrate your body and keep your muscles relaxed. Water is great for your skin and your muscles, plus staying hydrated can even help to prevent headaches.
Keep up the stretching.
If you are one of the many people who feel achy and tight when you rise in the morning or after a day at work, stretch! If you make a habit of including stretching in your daily routine, it will really help you with any muscle aches and soreness, and will make the effects of your massage last longer. In between sessions, having a good stretch helps support the work that’s been done to relax your muscles on the treatment table. Check with your doctor or a fitness professional if you are new to stretching.
Epsom salt baths are great for keeping any muscle aches and stiff joints at bay – they contain magnesium which is also good for relieving stress. To prevent soreness after a massage, add Epsom salts to your bath as directed and relax.
Hot and Cold Therapy
In between massages you might start feeling that tell-tale build-up of tension – nip it in the bud with heat therapy. Applying heat can help to sooth aching muscles and relieve any tightness and tension. Heat can also improve and stimulate blood flow to the area. Try a heat pad, or heat up a damp towel in the microwave using 30 second intervals to check the temperature.
If you injure yourself in between massage sessions, try using cold therapy to numb the pain. Cold therapy is good for strains, sprains and other minor injuries (if you’re unsure, or are in serious pain, see your healthcare provider). For severe pain and/or swelling, take a cold pack or even frozen vegetables in a bag and wrap it in a towel to avoid cold burns. You can alternate between hot and cold therapy but always leave a period in between for your body to adjust.
One last and very important tip: Make your massage sessions part of your regular self-care routine. If you’re unsure about how often you need a massage the best person to ask is your therapist. She will know if you need extra sessions or just maintenance care, and will make sure your massage is tailored to your needs. Once a month is all most people need to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
What a major wake up call I received this morning! Muscle cramp in my right calf muscle. Not just once but TWICE. It was so painful, and trust me, I woke up quickly. At some point in your life you’ve probably had muscle cramps... when a muscle that normally only does what you tell it to do suddenly gets a mind of its own and decides to contract even when you tell it to calm down. A cramp can hit at any time but it seems we mostly experience them in the middle of the night or when stretching in the morning and usually in the lower legs and feet. So if you’re suffering with muscle cramps, check out these 4 common causes and how to remedy the situation.
Our bodies require a very delicate balance of minerals to be kept. As we sweat and our bodies continue basic functions, this delicate balance can be thrown off if we’re not regularly replenishing those minerals. And while potassium is often the most vilified when it comes to muscle cramps, sodium, calcium, and magnesium also play an important role. Many people assume that if they’re having muscle cramps it means they’re deficient in one or more of these minerals, but too much may also result in cramping. Each plays an important role in muscle function and too much or too little of any of them can disrupt normal function, resulting in those irritating cramps.
You may need to change your diet, or increase or decrease your supplements. It’s important to speak with your doctor about what changes you can make to get your body back into balance.
With our busy lifestyles we tend to not drink enough water. Along with that delicate mineral balance, hydration is just as important. In order for those minute, yet oh-so-important, cellular functions to happen correctly, cells need to be hydrated; keeping the proper balance of water and minerals. With the summer months upon us it is extremely important to drink water throughout the day especially if you are outside. I was talking to a coach of a little league team about the subject of water during this hot summer months. One thing he said was that water is important but if you are outside and sweating you need to replace minerals and electrolytes also. Drink 90% water and 10% a drink like Gatorade. So if you’re experiencing regular cramping, increasing your water intake and something that replaces minerals and electrolytes may be a simple solution.
I am a weekend warrior. I love to work outside in the garden and overusing any muscle can be a big cause of muscle cramping. Whether this is chronic overuse or a sudden change in intensity due to exercise, the nervous system is usually to blame here. Your nerves can become overexcited and it can be difficult to calm them down. This is just another reason to take the time, no matter what the physical activity, take time to cool down giving your nervous system time to calm back down back into a resting state.
LACK OF MOVEMENT
On the opposite end of the spectrum, too little movement can be just as detrimental and result in muscle cramps. Again, your nervous system is probably to blame here and it’s simply a malfunction of the nerves. A little stimulation to them can often solve this problem. If you find yourself sitting a lot try taking a 5-10 minute break every hour and just walk around. Go outside and go for a walk. Bonus is you get a little Vitamin D.
If you notice here, it’s all about balance. Your body requires a delicate balance to be kept of water and minerals, movement and rest. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, what changes can you make to get your body back into balance?
Embrace Life! Therapeutic Massage
"Caregiver Burnout" according to WebMD "is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned". I can bet if I asked for a raise of hands of those who know someone who is caring for an ill spouse or child or elderly parent(s) a large majority would raise their hand. Half of those who raise their hand could possibly be one who is the caregiver.
Why is this so important? Being a caregiver is exhaustive work both physically and mentally day in and day out. Caregivers do not get a break unless they are fortunate enough to have committed family and friend support. Even then a caregiver can get overwhelmed. How can you know if someone you love, whether friend or family member, is showing signs of burnout? Here are just a few signs to look for:
--Alicia Lingenfelter, LMT, CMLDT, OMT
Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage
The simple answer is YES! Don’t be afraid of treating yourself, or someone you know, to a massage treatment(s) while going through treatment for cancer. There’s no reason why anyone who has cancer should avoid massage therapy. In fact, it can be an incredibly life-affirming treatment that should boost well-being and help with the stress of cancer treatments. I always recommend that if a client is in cancer treatment they let their health care providers know they are receiving massage therapy. This will give your health care providers a chance to let the therapist know of any issues they need the therapist to be aware of.
Having a massage while having medical treatment for cancer can really put you back in touch with your body again. It can feel almost alien while you’re being examined and prodded by medical experts, receiving treatments that make you feel bad and having test after test. The simple pleasures of touch and massage can help reconnect you with your body, making you feel more human and ‘normal’ at a difficult time. At Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage you will find it a safe place to chat and share your thoughts and fears that you may not feel you can share with your family.
Massage sessions are adapted to your unique situation. Together we will determine what your needs are for that day and develop a massage plan together. Techniques will be adjusted taking into account your type of treatment, your energy level, and possible doctors orders (if given any). My goal is for you to be able to retreat to your happy place during your massage session and feel relaxed and more "you" when your session is finished.
Massage therapy during cancer or after cancer treatments doesn’t just feel nice; clinical studies have shown that massage can reduce symptoms such as stress, nausea, pain, fatigue and depression, all too common when you’re dealing with a serious illness.
Don’t worry – research shows that massaging muscle and soft tissue doesn’t spread cancer cells – that’s a myth. A relaxing massage is perfectly safe for people at all stages of cancer treatment, although techniques used and length of a massage session may vary. Tumor sites or any compromised tissue or area will be avoided during all massage therapy sessions.
The myth that massage can spread cancer came about because some people believe that the cancer affected cells can be moved around the body via the lymphatic system. This isn’t true; circulation of lymphatic fluid actually happens naturally as we move, and it can’t cause cancer to spread. Cancer develops and spreads because of changes to a cell’s DNA not through cells being circulated around the body. There’s nothing to worry about!
Scientific studies have shown that massage may reduce pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression in people having cancer treatments like chemotherapy and surgery.
What are the health benefits of massage for cancer patients? People who’ve had massage therapy sessions during their cancer treatment say that they’ve noticed a wide range of positive effects afterwards. These include: better sleep, improved healing of scar tissue, a better quality of life, more mental clarity, and better range of movement.
A large American study from 2004  looked at the effects of massage therapy on almost 1300 people with cancer over three years. The study found that massage therapy reduced pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and the longer the massage sessions, the more relief people reported.
Another smaller study  looked at how safe and effective massage was in reducing stress hormones in people who had blood cancer. People were given aromatherapy, massage or rest; massage significantly reduced amounts of stress hormones in the people who took part in the study.
So, if you, or someone you know, is dealing with cancer, or has just been through treatment and needs a pick-me-up, choose massage. Gift certificates and massage packages available.
Embrace Life Therapeutic Massage
1 Fellowes D, Barnes K, Wilkinson SSM. Aromatherapy and massage for symptoms relief in patients with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Iss 4. 2 Stringer J et al. Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol and prolactin. Psycho-Oncology 2008 Oct; 17 (10): 1024–31.
For many, the idea of massage as healthcare is still a foreign concept, so often it’s not understood why massage therapists require all clients to fill out a health/intake form. However, this is a very important part of how we assess your needs for the session.
While these forms provide us with the obvious contact information so we can get in touch if needed, more importantly, they give an overview of your health history and current conditions that may need to be taken into consideration. A general relaxation massage poses no danger to most people, but certain health problems may make even the most gentle massage contraindicated (not advised) or you may need to be referred to another massage therapist who specializes in certain techniques, or another healthcare profession entirely. For instance, someone with a history of, or a current blood clot may be turned away for their own safety. However, someone with significant lymphedema can often be referred to a specialist who provides manual lymphatic drainage.
Medications are also an important factor to disclose because some medications can have certain side effects we need to know about. If you’re on a medication that lowers your blood pressure, you may need extra time or even help getting up off the table at the end of your session, as massage can lower your blood pressure even more. If bruising is a side effect of your medication, we want to be sure to warn you that if you’re seeking deep pressure, you should expect to see some light bruises after your massage, or deep pressure may be ill-advised completely (depending on several other factors).
In addition to your health history, the intake form also provides us with a sense of what your goals are for your massage sessions. If you have any certain pain complaints or injuries that need to be addressed, this is where you’d list out the details of that. This helps us begin to develop a plan of care for you. We also keep notes on all clients to track progress and changes from one session to the next, altering the plan of care when needed.
While it can take some time to fill out the paperwork necessary to get a massage, remember, this isn’t just a massage, it’s healthcare. Those few minutes it takes to complete the paperwork can mean the difference between a mediocre or even dangerous session, and an amazing massage!
Embrace Life! Therapeutic Massage
Massage therapists everywhere will agree that a regular massage is certainly great for your health and well being but can you claim a massage as a legitimate medical expense? Well, actually, yes you can. Here are three ways you may be able to get that massage paid for.
If you have a flexible savings account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), it allows you save money tax-free from each pay check - and you can use the funds to pay for massage. Definitely worth looking into because if you don’t use your allocated funds by the end of every year they go right back to your employer.
Massage therapy is one thing you may be able to use the funds for. A medical massage is a ‘qualified medical expense’ – but you’ll have to have a written prescription from your healthcare provider. The IRS also states that “medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental ailment.” So, if you’re getting a massage to relieve or help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression or for pain management, you can claim.
Your healthcare provider will need to prove:
Are massages tax deductible expenses?
Talking of the IRS, you might not be aware that there are some situations where you can potentially deduct massage therapy on your taxes – but as with FSA and HSA you have to make sure that your massages qualify.
You can’t deduct massage from your taxes if:
• You paid for it using with an HSA or FSA account.
• It was a pleasure massage and not carried out for a nonmedical reason (or for a medical reason not officially diagnosed by a medical professional.)
You may be able to deduct your massages if you’re getting them for a medical reason, and you have an official diagnosis.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in 2016, 17% of all Americans talked to their healthcare providers about massage therapy, and 63% of those doctors either referred the patient to a massage therapist or recommended medical massage. If a doctor, or other licensed medical practitioner, like a chiropractor, prescribes massage, it’s worth looking into deducting the expense on your taxes.
Keeping records of your medical massage
If you’re going to deduct medical massage on your taxes, you need to make sure that your massage therapist is licensed in his or her state of practice, and always keep your receipts.
Insurance Covered Massage Therapy
Did you know that your insurance could cover massage therapy too? It all depends on the insurance plan and carrier, and as with all insurance policies, there will be terms and restrictions. Some plans cover massages under the form of chiropractic care, while others cover a small amount of each massage treatment, say 15 minutes. You can find out if your insurance covers massage therapy by taking a closer look at your health insurance policy or asking your agent.
So, there you have it...three ways in which you may be able to get the cost of your medical massage treatments covered!
Have you heard of hydosols? I had not until recently so I started doing some research on what they are used for and found it quite interesting. The "short and sweet" explanation of a hydrosol... when plants are being steam distilled or hydro distilled for their essential oil properties the water that remains from the steam distilation process is the hydrosol. Hydrosols have the same aroma and therapeutic properties and can be sprayed directly onto the body whereas some essential oils need to be mixed with a carrier. Hydrosols can be sprayed on the skin, on to your sheets at night or just into the air as a freshener. Love it!
One thing that kept popping up while doing the research is to be careful you are really getting a pure hydrosol. Same with purchasing essential oils it is important to get pure 100% essential oils. There is a lot of essential oils floating around now that they have become so popular and many are not 100% essential oil. Some have what they call "fillers" and will only be a small amount of actual essential oil. So apparently it is the same with hydrosols. Some are sold as floral waters which is water with drops of essential oil added. so just be aware of what you are purchasing.
Here are a few common hydrosols and their therapeutic properties found on https://naha.org (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy:
German Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, cooling, inflammatory skin conditions
Clary Sage: PMS, hot flashes, anti-depression, astringent
Lavender: relaxing, anti-inflammatory
Neroli/Orange Flower: stress relieving, all around skin care, astrigent
Witch Hazel: astrigent, insect bites, oily skin, acne, wound cleanser
Here are just a couple of places that I have heard about where you can purchase hydrosols. I am not endorsing them but here is a good place to start researching for yourself.
Body scrubs are very easy to make, you simply mix the ingredients together store and store them in a glass container. Plastic containers are fine as long as you use your scrub within a couple of months. Essential oils will start to break down the plastic.
Lemon & Rosemary Salt Scrub
2 cups Sea Salt
1 cup Sweet Almond Oil any oil of preference
Zest of One Lemon
4 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil
1 Teaspoon Rosemary Chopped
Citrus Morning Scrub
½ cup light olive oil or any oil of preference
1 cup sea salt
lemon zest from one lemon
2 drops grapefruit essential oil
There isn’t much that is more relaxing to me than a bath at the end of a long day! Well sometimes at the start of a long day they are nice too. To make a bath extra special try some of these ingredients & enjoy!
Milk or Milk & Honey – The lactic acid in the milk will gently exfoliate you skin and the honey is softening to the skin. Just add a few cups of milk with 1-2 tablespoons of honey to your warm bath water. You can also add powdered milk straight to the water. Relax and enjoy!
Herbal Bath – Use a few herbal teabags to create a soothing or energizing bath. You can add the teabags straight to the tub, or brew a strong tea (4 bags in a small pot of water) and add the tea to your bath, Try Chamomile for relaxation, lemon zinger for uplifting, or a green tea bath for detoxing.
Epsom salts bath – Epsom salts are made from magnesium sulfate magnesium helps keep enzyme activity regular in your body and that helps your bodies functions to run smoothly. Sulfate is also important, and helps with the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins, and strengthening the walls of the digestive system. Epsom salts can also soothe sore muscles, relieve stress and soften your skin. It can also relieve psoriasis and eczema. Who knew a bath could do all that!
Oatmeal Bath– If your skin is dry, itchy or irritated try an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal balances the skins PH, and has natural cleansers. You can buy packets of oatmeal bath at the drugstore, or to save money just make your own at home. Fill a sock or nylon stocking with one cup of old fashioned oats, soak the sock in your bath water squeeze it every few minutes to release the oatmeal starch into the water. If you are trying an oatmeal bath for a skin condition, don’t make the water too hot, that can further irritate your skin.
To make your bath even more relaxing I recommend: candles or an aromatherapy diffuser, a bath pillow, relaxing music, and a good book! Happy Soaking!
-EmbraceLife! Therapeutic Massage
While massage therapy can have benefits that last days or weeks at a time, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your body every day in between appointments. To help the effects of your massage last longer and simply to feel better, you’ll need to practice some self-care. Massage therapy is not a luxury, nor is it selfish to receive. Daily self-care is no different.
So here’s 7 easy self-care tips you can start using today to get you through until your next massage appointment.
#1: Take breaks
Whether you’re working at a desk all day, standing in one spot, or doing hard manual labor, your body needs a break. Ideally, you’d want to take about 10 minutes for every hour of work, but I know not every work environment accommodates that sort of schedule, so take a break as often as possible. And I mean a real break. Don’t grab lunch at your desk while you keep working, or go from a computer screen to your phone screen scrolling through social media. A real break, one that’s going to benefit your body and mind, is one in which you do the opposite of your work. So if you sit at a desk all day, take a break by going outside for a 10 minute walk on nice days, or at least walk around the office and chat with coworkers about things that aren’t work related. If your job is more physically assertive, take a break by sitting back, kicking up your feet and closing your eyes for a few minutes. Whatever it is you do, give your mind and body a true rest from those tasks, or you won’t feel like you’ve had a break at all.
During that break, or even while you’re working, move your body and stretch! Focus on the areas that tend to bother you at the end of the day, even if they’re not hurting right at the moment. Incorporating some small stretches throughout the day will often prevent that pain you may be feeling by the time you’re ready to clock out.
Back massagers, foot baths, Thera Canes, and more…while there’s all kinds of specific tools designed to help you reach those hard to massage areas, a tennis ball can be just as good. You can use it for just about any area with only your bodyweight as leverage to get pressure. For example, try lying on your back on the floor, with the tennis ball placed under your back (if this is too much pressure, try leaning against a wall instead). You can use your feet to rock yourself left and right, up and down, letting the ball find different areas of tension. When you find a good spot, try to relax and breathe into it until that tension melts away. While these tools don’t replace the skilled hands of a trained massage therapist, they can help to relieve the daily tension that can build up between appointments.
#4: Get Outside
Fresh air does a body good, and this is actually backed up by science. Research suggests that spending time outdoors helps you to clear your mind, improve your focus, and just feel happier. So whether it’s taking a break during work or making a day of it on a weekend, spend time outdoors.
#5: Meditate / Breathe
Meditation has been shown time and again to help reduce stress and ease tension in the body, but I know it seems like a daunting task for many. Meditation isn’t just about clearing your mind completely (that’s impossible for most of us), but is instead about focusing your mind on something. Some prefer guided meditation to keep them focused, and others enjoy just some quiet time breathing. Find what works for you. There’s no right or wrong about it. To start, try taking just 5 minutes somewhere quiet to breathe. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your body. What sensations do you feel? Focus on slowly relaxing each and every muscle from the top of your head all the way down to your toes. Making even a short exercise like this a normal part of your daily activities not only helps you relax, but it builds your body awareness – your ability to perceive where you are in space, and to recognize the sensations of your own body. This can, in turn help you recognize when your body is close to injury and prevent you from pushing too hard, or help you to isolate a problem area you may need work on.
#6: Turn up the music
Music is good for the soul and can help to take your mind off daily stresses. Studies have shown that playing music causes dopamine, a feel-good chemical, to be released into the brain. This is the same chemical that’s released when we eat chocolate and fall in love. It’s pretty powerful stuff! So while you’re driving to and from work, crank up the tunes and rock out. If you can’t stand the music they play at work (if any), bring your own and put in some headphones. It’ll help you to concentrate and feel good all day.
#7: Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is absolutely crucial to keeping your body in tip-top shape. If your sleep is suffering, everything else will suffer as well. Most adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night, but many people are far below that. Everyone’s needs are different, so you may be perfectly fine with less than that, or you may need more. The best way to determine this is to go without an alarm clock for at least 1 week and go to bed at the same time every night. This allows your body to fall into a rhythm of what it really needs instead of what it’s been forced to do for so long. You’ll soon see just how much sleep your body requires when you allow it to wake naturally.
And no, sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t make up for a week of lost sleep. Sleep deprivation (those who get less than the recommended 7 hours) can result in a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a decreased immune system. Not to mention the smaller side effects like loss of concentration, decreased productivity, and irritability. So if you want to feel good throughout your time between massage appointments, make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
EmbraceLife! Therapeutic Massage
Massage Therapist specializing in helping women 50 and over stay active and pain free as they navigate through their senior years.