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Inspiring Well-Being Quotes

Inspiring Quotes

From a sense of well-being, massage is certainly inter-connected with yoga. To that end, I submit this yoga-related post on our massage blog.

These quotes are a knock-out. They really struck a chord with me and I thank Mandy Burstein for putting these together. And Mandy’s list (among many other useful and interesting topics was circulated by Alissa Haines of ‘Writing a Blue Streak

 

1. “True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” — Aadil Palkhivala

2. “Change is not only inevitable, but always happening. When you truly embrace this concept of change being constant, the only thing left to do is grow, detach, venture inwards, touch the spirit and find your source — the one responsible for keeping you grounded through the ever-changing seasons of life.” — Julie Weiland

3. “Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” — Osho

4. “Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable; to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are.” — Rolf Gates

5. “If you choose to see everything as a miracle, then where you are right now is perfect. There is nowhere to run to; there is nothing else to do except be in this moment and allow what is to be. From that place of radical acceptance, major change can happen. The first step in any transformational experience is acceptance and surrender to the present moment, the way that it is. From that place we have the awareness, humility and power to change what is.” — Mastin Kipp

6. “In meditation and in our daily lives there are three qualities that we can nurture, cultivate, and bring out. We already possess these, but they can be ripened: precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go.” — Pema Chodron

7. “The chakras are very intelligent – they are like the software of the whole computer body.” — Dharma Mittra

8. “Follow your nature. The practice is really about uncovering your own pose; we have great respect for our teachers, but unless we can uncover our own pose in the moment, it’s not practice — it’s mimicry. Rest deeply in Savasana every day. Always enter that pratyahara (withdrawn state) every day. And just enjoy yourself. For many years I mistook discipline as ambition. Now I believe it to be more about consistency. Do get on the mat. Practice and life are not that different.” — Judith Hanson Lasater

9. “When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world.” — B.K.S. Iyengar

10. “There will always be people who can do it better than you, but that’s a good thing! Start to see competition as inspiration — without envy.” — Kathryn Budig

*Bonus: Namaste. — Possibly the most beautiful word ever said in yoga. There are many interpretations, my favorite being: “The divine light in me bows to the divine light in you.”

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

Scope of Practice

Scope of Practice

I recently had a female client in her 50’s who complained of lower back pain (uh-oh), sore shoulders and a stiff neck with limited Range of Motion. The sore lower back situation was chronic, and had lately been accompanied by painful sciatica in her right leg. She purchased a 50-minute massage (not enough time) and asked for it to be ‘deep’. She works in sales, at a computer all day, and was in Jackson Hole on a ski vacation – she had been skiing  every day and the slopes were icy and hard-packed.

Warning signs go up all over the place for me when I have a client like this. I am likely to see her once and never again. My customer-service ethic on the one hand kicks-in (yes – I can cure all that ails you and give you the deep tissue massage that you have asked for) but then so does my training in Scope of Practice and just plain awareness that there is, in fact, very little I can do for her beyond general relaxation – with a fairly light Swedish massage. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my more sensible self – but listened to the ‘business’ self that says give the customer what she is asking for. After 50 minutes of addressing neck, shoulder, hip, glutes, hamstrings, hip rotators and other areas I associate with lower back pain, she came out into our reception area, went pale in the face, and had to sit down. She complained that her back was even more sore now – though not in a criticizing sort of way as the massage had felt good to her at the time. During the massage, my work on her right piriformis had shown it to be extremely sensitive to touch, whereas that on her left side was OK. This seemed most likely connected to her sciatica on that side – the tight piriformis perhaps pinching or compressing the nerve. I mentioned this subjectively to her.

I feel that I should not have given her the massage that she asked for – but instead let her relax both muscularly and mentally with a nice, peaceful Swedish massage. This is what should have been dictated by the limits of my own Scope of Practice – and I would have felt much better to see her walking comfortable, rather than stiffly, out of the spa.

A friend called me today to say that she was experiencing weakness in both of her hands, and that upon waking up in the morning her hands were numb as though she had been sleeping on them in a bad way (which she thinks she was not). I told her right away that I am not a doctor and may not diagnose things (especially over the phone) – and then mentioned that these symptoms could be indicative of nerve damage in her lower C-spine – I know because I have had a triple-fusion neck surgery for exactly that in recent years. “Have you had a doctor’s opinion on this?” I asked her.

“Well,” she said, “I’ve been to the chiropractor – and he ‘adjusted’ me.” If there’s one thing that makes me squirm – it’s hearing stories of chiropractors who go in and start ‘adjusting’ people who’s symptoms speak to potential spinal problems – when, clearly, NOTHING should be done without a proper diagnosis by a qualified MD with the aid of an MRI scan and or X-rays. I told her my thoughts on this and that, in my humble opinion, this chiropractor was working outside of his Scope of Practice and that she should seek a proper diagnosis.

“Once you have that diagnosis – whatever it is – I want you to ask your doctor if massage is indicated in order to help with either the cause or the symptoms. Then I can consult with your doctor about a massage prescription and we can move ahead.” It could be that muscles in the thoracic outlet or C-spine area are in spasm and causing her discomfort. In that case, I do sincerely think I can help her without risk to my practice or her health – and a competent doctor’s order is a much more comforting umbrella under which to work to help soothe her pain. Anything else is speculation, and clearly beyond our Scope of Work.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

 

 

 

You Come to Us.

You Come To Us

Last week my blog post was all about ‘We Come To You’.  This was indeed how we defined our business when we started out – it seemed like a really good idea – and it IS – up to a point.  There are some people who just don’t want us to come to them.  For various reasons, it’s not convenient. There might be interruptions at home, or the noise of TV, kids, dogs, construction…who knows.

For the occasional visitor who comes to Jackson Hole and stays in nice hotels or vacation residences, in-home massage is a great service and one that is much appreciated as part of a pampering massage experience. But we now feel that this leaves out our more local customers who may not have large places for us to come to – and they’d rather be in a more purpose-oriented massage studio to get down to the business or regular sports or deep tissue massage therapy.

So Rochelle and I have decided to expand our practice and our thinking…and just this week we have taken on a shared space in ‘The Connection‘ (270 Veronica Lane, Jackson), which will enable people to come to a centrally located massage studio in Jackson at their convenience…and ours.

And, like so many things in life, this has turned out to be a fabulous move for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.  For starters, we now have Tina Seay in our lives – and what a beautiful, nurturing person she is.  Rochelle and I are immediately better off for knowing her.  Tina runs The Connection – ‘A Place To Connect at All Levels’ – it’s a lovely, relaxing, quiet suite of rooms where different massage / body work / energy work professionals practice their professions.  Here’s how Tina describes The Connection:

It is a collective center where people meet to explore themselves, their place in the world, and how to reach their highest most exquisite Self.  Through bodywork, energy work, workshops, and products The Connection is a center created for the evolution of body, mind, and spirit.

Aside from creating the physical presence of ‘The Connection’, Tina’s own practice is Healing Touch Massage and Body Work.  The following few lines from her web site should tell it all:

Get out of exist mode; Move into the present moment, Become more optimistic, Allow yourself to move forward; Rebound from your extreme sports activities; Recover from your crippled posture after the long plane ride; Look good, feel good.  Become more flexible.

Also present in The Connection is Sheri Todd, NCMT (Nationally Certified Massage Therapist) with her business Teton Manual Therapy – Orthopedic Health Assessment and Wellness.

What is ‘Manual Therapy’? – Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_therapy

Sheri’s qualifications, experience and expertise are just too great to go into here (so go check out her web site) – but let’s just say she’s another wonderful person to be ‘connected’ with and Rochelle and I look forward to working in unison with these two wonderful professionals.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

We Come to You

We Come to You

 

My previous posts have been about the experience and what to expect in massage mostly in a setting where clients come to a clinic or a spa. Where massage techniques, types, benefits, strokes, tools and so on stay the same – what is different when massage therapists come to your home or vacation residence?

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole prides itself in quality home visits. Hence our tag line – We Come To You.   (However, for various reasons we just took on a shared space in  on Veronica Lane in Jackson – see next post). Here’s how it works:

Well, to start with – we come to you! In the days of cell-phone GPS it’s usually easy to get there – but if there are any directions that could help us identify your door and where to park that might helpful. In quite a few areas of Jackson Hole there is no cell service, so we are careful to ask for details. Even if it is a couples massage we will come in one vehicle to save parking space.

 

We will arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the appointment time, allowing us time to say hello, change into our indoor footwear, set up our equipment (while you fill out our intake forms) and generally get ready. We bring: Massage Table (duh), bolster, face cradle, sheets, table-warming blanket, over blanket, massage oil or lotion, music and player, intake forms and a fabulous attitude.

 

We do need adequate space to set up. Often, with couples’ massages, this might put people in two different rooms or areas of the house. A typical massage table is 6’5″ long and between 27 and 33 inches wide. Add another foot in length for the face cradle. Then we need as much space around the table as possible to work – a minimum of three feet on each side and at the foot of the table is ideal – and I like a good four feet absolute minimum at the head. These considerations are important for both the quality of the massage that you will receive, and the health and safety of your massage therapist. We have to concern ourselves with correct ‘body mechanics’, which helps us to avoid injury via proper positioning and angles of our bodies whilst doing this physical work. Clearly, that ability is compromised in a restricted place.

It is also best if the room is warm – even with table warmers, uncovered areas of the body quickly become cold and not responsive to massage – and there are no barking dogs or other distractions (aka noisy kids, football on the TV…).

When all is ready, the therapist(s) will call you into the room, instruct you about how they want you to be on the table (I usually start clients face-down), and then retreat to the closest bathroom to wash hands and give privacy whilst you disrobe and get on the table, under the sheet and blanket. The massage commences, you luxuriate in the excellence of your therapist’s touch for an hour or (preferably) 90 minutes – and you’re done! Easy – that’s all there is to it. The therapists once again retreat to the bathroom to wash hands while you slip into your robes. After that, we pack up, accept your very gracious payment (credit card payment is very easy these days with ‘square’ payments), have a little ‘goodbye’ session – and leave. You get to stay in your robes, hang out at home, glow in the aftermath of your ‘massage coma’ – and contemplate making this into a weekly, or at least monthly, habit. And why not…you deserve it.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle/

 

 

 

60 or 90 Minutes?

60 or 90 Minutes?

 

I feel so strongly about this that I am considering dropping the 60 minute time slot in favor of 90 minute sessions  – especially for deep tissue massage. That is – proper deep tissue massage. Or let’s call it deep tissue therapy or body work.

Yes – massage therapists can all give a nice relaxation Swedish massage in 60 minutes – but it’s almost always a compromised massage if it is to address the whole body including hands, feet, scalp and face. I find myself distracted by looking at the clock and having to leave something out or just briefly touched if I am not careful. And lets face it – if your massage therapist is any good – 60 minutes will always leave you feeling a bit short-changed. People rarely get off a massage table thinking that they’ve had enough or have been there too long. (Let’s not even go to the 50 minute time of spas – which I think is really poor service.)

 

But with deep tissue – 60 minutes  just isn’t enough to address the whole body adequately. I don’t even try. This is enough time to address either the upper body or the lower body or specifics like shoulder / upper back and neck complaints.

 

I’m talking about a proper deep tissue massage here, where communication between client and therapist is essential and on-going throughout the session. This is deep tissue where time has to be spent assessing, palpating, warming and softening (melting) the more superficial muscles – necessary to allow access to the deeper muscles. And simultaneously it takes time for the client to relax mentally, to find their breathing rhythms and their trust and comfort in the session that’s about to begin. After all that prep work, which takes time (everybody has different requirements), the therapist has to work slowly and methodically – slowness equals deepness (or at least the effect of deepness) lotion or oil is kept to a minimum and burning of the skin isn’t an option. The therapist is ‘listening’ to the body, feeling what’s going on in the anatomy, looking at the client’s face, watching for trembles, movement, resistance and gauging the effect of the stroke or tool or method being used.  Only when the muscle has ‘released’, or otherwise responded as desired, is it time to move on. We need time to ask questions of the client (How is this feeling?), listen to the answers. There’s experimentation – is this working? If not, how about this? Or after this – I think I should add this?

And then there’s joint mobilization and increasing range of motion (ROM) for many differing conditions and desired outcomes. Massaging muscles doesn’t just stand on its own! I will often perform joint mobilization and stretching techniques to the areas of the body served by those muscles that are receiving a massage. This gives a much more beneficial (and great-feeling) all-around massage.

 

So the point is -if you’re booking a proper deep tissue massage, or even a relaxation massage with elements of deep tissue – give yourself and your therapist a break and do the 90 minute version – you’ll love it!

Choosing 90 minutes for deep tissue massage is a win-win situation. The client receives a better massage and better results, the therapist gets to give a better massage, is likely to get better reviews and will earn better money.  (The value for the client is usually better too, as the per-minute price of a 90 minute session is usually less than that of the 60 minute session.)

Oh – and by the way – be prepared to book future sessions. The first deep tissue massage is often (usually) a get-to-know-you time. There are many, many benefits to repeat visits to a therapist who, in their first session, has come to know your body, yourself, and has an extended plan of care. Over time a relationship develops and the overall result is…a healthier and happier you.

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

Accessing the Psoas Major

Lower Back Pain? Think Psoas Major

Image showing psoas muscle anatomy

Pronounced with a silent ‘p’, the psoas major (let’s just call it the psoas), is the only muscle in the body that connects the upper body to the lower body. This often comes as quite a surprise statement to people – but it’s true as it attaches the lumbar vertebrae to the inside of the femur, having passed through the entire inguinal/ hip region. It’s important and hefty role is flexion and extension of the hips – think walking, climbing stairs, sitting down and standing up.

 

There’s much more to it than that, of course – as it becomes one with the iliacus muscle and is more generally known as the iliopsoas, and it should be treated in unison with the piriformis (and others). But the point here is about accessing this primary hip flexor.

Those who sit for long times at computers, who drive, or in lotus-position meditation will find their psoas muscles shortening. If no hip-stretches or exercises (with external hip rotation) are done to counter this, a chronic back-stooping pose may be the result, accompanied by lower back and neck pain as muscles in those areas try to compensate.

It’s a deep muscle in a vulnerable, tender spot – it can hold much emotion. Chances are good that even regular massage clients may never have had this worked on – it’s an area of caution for some. There’s no doubt it can be a painful and quite alarming experience having your psoas worked on for the first time. However, the physical and emotional benefits are substantial, so perseverance is key.

 

But before the first touch in that region, a conversation is necessary. The massage therapist should explain the muscle, what is does, why it might need attention, and then the process of working into it, the pain-scale, how to breathe into and ‘accept’ the discomfort, and how to communicate during the process. Trust, good skills with soft, warm fingers and ‘permission’ from the body and the client’s mind are all needed for the massage therapist to be able to gain access to the psoas.

Without creating discomfort, the massage therapist will gently press down and create movement (massage) the skin and fascia just below and to the side of the navel and toward the hip bone.  Patient gentle, continuous soft pressure and massage will eventually allow access to the psoas with the finger tips.

Massage of the psoas itself depends on what the therapist finds in there, the overall goal of the session, and also goals with on-going treatment – but that’s all beyond the intention of this post.

Massage of the the psoas Major, (along with the piriformis and others) is an important ‘maintenance’ consideration for regular clients.  It it is one of the body’s ‘primary’ skeletal muscles with important jobs – it’s worth persevering with the sensitivity of reaching it as the benefits – and the feeling of such work – are immense.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Side-Lying

The Benefits of Side-Lying

 

Side-lying position in massage therapy has to be experienced to be fully appreciated – and once you have tried it, you will find that you go back to the massage therapist that recommended it to you time after time.

Not only does your massage therapist have better access and angles to work on shoulders, hips, IT band,  outer-thigh muscles,  and adductors of the inner thigh, but the therapist’s body-positioning is more comfortable and more powerful – allowing the delivery of a much more controlled and effective massage.

 

Certain stretches, too, are greatly facilitated by side-lying – imagine the great side-stretches you can get if the therapist extends your arm up and out over your head, then down towards the floor whilst gently pushing your hip towards the other end of the table.

One of the nicer benefits is for those who don’t like to spend too much time with their face in the face-cradle. This can compromise the sinus channels in the front of the face and cause unpleasant pressure in the head. People with breathing conditions or allergies can find themselves all stuffed-up by the time it comes to roll over onto the back (supine) for the rest of the massage. Side-lying does away with much of that time in the face-cradle – and it allows for cleared communication with the therapist.

The side-lying position is especially beneficial for people needing extra care, such as pregnant women, the elderly, those with back pain, the obese, and those with medical devices such as clostomy bags, or medical conditions requiring extra comfort in the abdomen. Large-breasted and lactating women will also appreciate the relief offered by side-lying position.

Finally, Side-lying is a very secure and comfortable position and helps to reduce the ‘vulnerability’ or certain massage work that might otherwise seem invasive. The position is generally fetal, which is reassuring, and with pillows and bolsters held to the chest it is  a truly wonderful alternative to prone and / or supine positioning. Next time you go for a massage – request side-lying position from your therapist – you’ll love it.

 

 

The Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response

Image showing inhale and exhale

Does your massage therapist ever help you achieve complete exhalation of breath by compressing your chest while lying prone (face-down)? Doesn’t that feel extra wonderful? Why is that?

The key benefit of most types of massage (with the exception of some sports and training massages) is relaxation. The out-breath is a natural state of relaxation and creates the subconscious relaxation response. This is the body’s rejuvenation time and the National Institute of Health recognizes it as having broad health benefits, including reduction of pain and restoration of sleep. Along with quality of touch and certain Swedish massage techniques, the out-breath assists in bringing about the parasympathetic response of the autonomic nervous system – rest and digest. We simply don’t do enough attentive breathing (or massage) in these high-stress times, as relaxation is the antidote to stress.

 

Think of it literally – the breath is inspiration and expiration – and you will see the Latin root of the word ‘spirit’.  Our very spirit is inherent in our breathing. Meditation is breathing, relaxation & yoga is all about breathing and  the advice to ‘Take ten deep breaths’ to calm someone down is wise and effective indeed.

 

The relaxation response can increase energy, decrease fatigue and blood pressure, increase motivation, productivity, sex-drive and decision-making ability. Many self-taught relaxation response techniques are available online, but if you’d rather leave that up to someone else, a really great massage could be indicated.

Image showing relax button

Your massage therapist should be encouraging you to breathe throughout the session, especially if complete relaxation is the goal. Then again, a more aggressive deep massage will often require ‘breathing into’ the pain of working out a knotted muscle or cross-fiber-stroking a tender muscle tendon needing to be stretched. If using range-of-motion enhancement techniques, a deep breath will often be taken before a good exhale  at which time the therapist will take the limb beyond its previous tolerance.

Image showing relaxation book

For great advice on self-help breathing and stress-reduction techniques, visit http://www.mindtools.com/smpage.html

 

Sports Massage

Sports Massage – Events and Training?

While ‘sports’ massage can be for anybody with an active repetitive leisure or professional lifestyle, this post covers sports people…weekend warriors, professional athletes and generally anyone in the ‘performance’ sports bracket.

There are four specific times when sports massage therapists are of value to performance athletes:

 

1) Training Massage. The massage therapist starts the session with a vigorous effleurage in order to warm up muscles and get the blood circulation pumping in order to relax muscles, mind, and engorge stressed muscle tissues. Although effleurage is a ‘surface’ Swedish stroke – usually related to the longer, gentler spreading of oil or lotion on the body generally going along the direction of the muscle fibers. In sports massage there should be little or no oil or lotion at all. The strokes will be shorter, cross-fiber sometimes, with at least enough pressure to affect the surface muscles (to start with). Some friction, and short-frequency, vibration strokes may also be used.

As the body responds by loosening up, the training massage with proceed to deeper layers in order to detach adhesions, align muscle fibers and release and loosen fascia. the hoped-for results will be increased range of motion and greater potential for muscular performance.

 

2) Pre-Event Massage. This should be a light preparatory massage to prepare the athlete mentally as much as physically for an athletic event. A deep massage would be counter-productive here because always a deep massage requires some physiological recovery time even from the most beneficial of massages.

Think of a warm-up time for the muscles. Friction strokes, jostling, pressure will all bring warming life-giving energy to the muscles and get the athlete ‘psyched-up’ for the event.

 

3) Post-Event Massage. Athletic performance will create lactic acid build-up and toxins in and around the muscles. After an important cool-down period (slowly working down the intensity of the competition by walking around, shaking limbs etc.) gentle massage and facilitated movement will help to increase blood flow and therefore flush out those toxins and remove those lactic acids. Spasmed muscles, or those with that potential, will also benefit. Overall, the entire musk-skeletal system benefits from the relaxation and return to homeostasis brought-on by post-event massage. Most importantly, the athlete will be more ready for his next event if he leaves this one in great shape.

 

4) Rehabilitation

Injuries can occur in evens – from strains to sprains, micro tears in muscle fibers or even falls causing more serious damage. In more serious cases, care must be taken in post-event massage not to work on an injured athlete unless a proper diagnosis has been provided by a higher medical-care authority.

Spasmed muscles can be relaxed with gentler, passive techniques, while more active techniques can increase range of motion. Some common-sense exercises can be discussed with the athlete t help with recovery and prepare for the next event – also helping with prevention of future injuries.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

What is Sports Massage?

Sports Massage – What Is It?

 

There are several important differences between sports massage and Swedish massage – and even a regular session of ‘deep’ massage. That’s not to say there isn’t any crossover of techniques or benefits. A sports massage will be more vigorous, more specific in muscles / joints worked with, they can involve even deeper work than deep massage (but not always and only as indicated), are often at a 5 – 7 on a pain scale up to 10, and are generally more intense with shorter, faster strokes. There can be much more attention paid to stretching.

 

As a client, you can expect a much more rigorous pre-session interview, where your therapist will be listening carefully to detailed descriptions of the work you are requiring, the type of lifestyle / sports you have, your goals wit therapy, and your areas of pain or dysfunction.

In order to warm the muscles, either to work deeper, or in a pre-sports event massage, strokes will be much faster and should actually cause excitement, rather than relaxation.

Because sports massage is about warming muscles, therefore using friction, much less oil is used than in Swedish massage. There are also certain muscle-lengthening methods, such a ‘pin-and-stretch’, that are best done with no oil at all – or even over the drapes or clothing. Many sports massage therapists prefer lotion over oil is it is less viscous.

 

In the case of performance athletes, pain at some level is expected in sports massage. It’s part of what you get, and expect, for being an athlete. Sports at a higher level will eventually cause pain anyway with over-exertion of muscles; pain will eventually decrease performance. So it makes sense to prepare the body to last longer before getting to this stage – and that can be painful. However, on a pain scale of 1 – 10, where at 1 there’s not even awareness of touch, and 10 in unbearable pain, somewhere between 5 and 7 is the zone of therapeutic effectiveness. The therapist should keep in touch with you constantly about the pain level, watching your breathing, finger-twitching, and restive body motions. There is no need or good reason to endure pain beyond about a level 7.

 

Participation is a big part of sports massage. Forget about setting your face in the cradle and falling asleep. You will be asked to assist with stretching moves, roll onto your back, side or front several times, lift this or push that while the therapist resists in the opposite direction – and constant feedback about your experience.

 

In next week’s post I will be discussing what to expect from sports massage at performance-sports events specifically.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.