Relaxation

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 2

You hear it all too often…”Don’t forget to breathe.”  Zen masters and casual meditation practitioners will tell you that the breath is the very core of our being – it’s where we ‘go’ to meditate. Therefore it stands to reason that, when receiving a massage, you will be better off if your body and mind are receiving this massage from the inside out – and you can achieve this through the breath. And a good massage therapist will sense, and hopefully breathe in sympathy. Breathing costs nothing, has immense health benefits for you and allows you to become in a more harmonious – it’s a win-win situation.

 

 

Now, of course, everybody breathes – otherwise we’d be dead! – I’m talking about a more conscious breathing on your part while on the massage table. It’s the kind of breathing that takes the mind into just itself and, as a massage therapist, I’m not shy about letting the client know I expect them to concentrate on their breathing. I also add in that they might like to try being aware of where my hands are, following them as they go and keeping track of where they’ve been. Breathing and setting the mind to keep track of where the hands are will create a profound meditation which helps me do my work.

The above applies mostly to relaxation Swedish Massage; although it also applies in sports massage and other types of massage where specific breathing  can be used in a very different kind of a way, for example, on exhalation to allow a certain range of motion to be reached. It’s quite simple – just breathe. The beginning of my Swedish relaxation massages usually involves quite a few minutes of ‘over-the-drapes’ work. There are several reasons for this which I will get into in a later blog post.  But during this time, after a brief ‘hand-walk’ up the body I’ll stand on one side of the table with my hands on the ‘other’ side of the body, and do some good compressions of the shoulders, rhomboids, erector spinae. Each time I compress I work with the client’s breath to make sure that I’m pushing down on the out-breath (therefore you have to be able to see the body moving with the breath if they’re quiet breathers). This results in a complete expulsion of all air from the lungs – something that the body rarely achieves – and something that my clients tell me feels absolutely wonderful. It’s a sort of ‘assisted breathing’ and you’ve been doing some of the work for them.

After a good spell of this on both sides of the body, I and the client are ready to have the sheets pulled back to expose the back and get some oiled Swedish massage started. The client’s body and mind are more than relaxed and ready to start with the massage that’s to come.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle,
Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole

 

 

 

 

How Much Pressure

How Much Pressure

How much Pressure  do you like? Is a strange question when applied to massage. Intake forms can be a bit silly when they ask this question. The question is far too general and tempts you to vote with their feet – as it’s not a fair question – and you don’t know your therapist. The other thing about the how much pressure question is…where? And at what stage in the massage? Not only does the amount of pressure differ all over the body, it also depends greatly on the overall flow of the massage, and the body type you’re working on. A massage therapist can and will go deeper, if appropriate, once their client is more into the massage session, more relaxed, and has been having the benefit of preparatory and warming strokes, such as petrissagetapotement, and even a more vigorous effleurage. (Additionally, I use a table warmer – which goes a long way to preparing the muscles and mind of your massage client for deeper work.)

How Much Pressure 1

 

How much pressure is used also refers to the circumstances and type of massage you are looking for. For example, I work in spas in  Jackson Hole,  and travel to out-call appointments, where clients are mostly looking for relaxation massage with some specific thrown in – such as ‘tight shoulders, neck and upper back’. These tend to be ‘one-time’ clients – looking for a bit of feel-good pampering while on vacation (and many people find that vacation is very stressful). When I am a sports therapist working on a specific problem with an athlete whom I see weekly in our office,  that’s a whole different context, where how much pressure is used  is arrived at in a whole different way: the clients needs have been assessed in previous sessions, and a plan has been developed.

 

In writing in a massage blog about how much pressure to apply , there’s a whole lot of peripheral information that needs to be considered – all the way from that silent, energy-filled ‘communication’ with the client on the table, to the much more physical aspects of the therapist’s size, weight, strength, experience with skills and knowledge of anatomy. And there’s a feeling that grows from the first moment of touch.

How Much Pressure 3

Once I have the client comfortable, warm, secure, and have done some over-the-drapes work and good warming strokes – I’ll get down to the business of massage and figuring out how much pressure to apply, and when and where. I use my senses as I move along slowly sensing how much pressure to apply in whatever stroke is appropriate for that moment. By this time I have found the right amount of oil to suit the client’s skin type and depth of massage they’re capable of handling. More oil means a lighter massage, less oil means deeper – it all has to do with the enabling or the curtailing of the speed of the stroke. With more oil, you’re going to zoom along the surface of the muscle, not spending much time there. Less time means less pressure.

How Much Pressure 4

So the question of how much pressure really means much more than putting a check in a box on an intake form – it’s an opportunity for a discussion with your massage therapist. And as you have this discussion, you’ll find that your therapist is gathering a whole lot more information than just about how much pressure you would like – an overall idea of your massage is forming in your therapist’s mind.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle,
Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole

 

 

 

Teton County Library

Teton County Library

The Teton County Library definitely belongs in the realm of ‘Things to do in Jackson Hole‘. And why not? One of the things we learn at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole is that people who come to Jackson Hole actually overdo it – and end up needing a massage. Too much of a goal-oriented vacation raises expectations and proves to be stressful, and generally prevents much of the rest and relaxation that is the whole point of being on vacation. A visit to Teton County Library is a delightful treat.  There are beautiful and diverse, comfortable seating areas to go and read yourself a book of a periodical. It’s a great way to take a load off your feet or get out of the heat, or the heavy rains we experience here in Jackson Hole in the summers. Additionally, there are meeting rooms, study rooms and a large display area where, currently, the featured show is Yellowstone, Then and Now – and exhibit and speaker series.

Teton County Library, by the way, means Teton County Wyoming, of course, as Jackson Hole is in Wyoming…but there’s also a Teton County in Idaho – just over Teton Pass. Oh – and you have to go through Teton County, Idaho, in order to get to the Alta Branch of Teton Country Library – unless, that is, you drop in by parasail or hike over the Teton Range from Grand Teton National Park.

The following, from the Teton County Library’s web site, explains the recent renovation and addition to this spectacular and modern state-of-the art facility: The voter-approved library project includes an 11,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the previous 24,000-square-foot building, parking lot and outdoor areas. The building project has created more space for reading and study, computers and technology, community meeting rooms, and dedicated teen and children’s areas, which are separated from quieter library spaces. We are planning for Silver LEED certification. The library’s existing electrical, data and building systems were replaced, upgraded and modernized. Architects on the project were Gilday Architects with Humphries/Poli Architects, and Construction Manager was GE Johnson. Teton County Library is certainly the most contemporary in the Entire Yellowstone Region.

Teton County Library is celebrating it’s 75th birthday this year with all kinds of special events so be sure to check out their web site http://tclib.org/

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

 

Walking for Health

Walking for Health

Walking is the most beneficial, easily-achieved, low-impact activity you can do to improve and maintain your health. Being massage professionals in Jackson Hole, it is part of my goal as a blog-writer to give my opinions on health-related matters.

 

Walking at 89

I was speaking with my father recently – he’s 89 and still doing very well indeed – both mentally and physically. He attributes the physical part of it to walking on a daily basis – and we’re talking about three to four miles. Although he was both a boxer and a rugby player for Scotland’s University of Glasgow – he gave those sports up in his 30’s – and took to walking ever since. Having an active Labrador dog (her name was ‘Eilidh of Stuarton’ – Nell for short) was good reason to go walking every day. Even after the dog passed-away, my mother and father found themselves addicted to walking and have kept it up into their very old age.

 

And that has passed on down to me – and I take credit for passing it on to Rochelle. If I don’t get my work-out in the gym every day, or go skiing or cycling – I go for a walk. In fact, you’ll often find me walking after a good day of skiing just to unwind and relax my muscles. Besides, walking is a great way to catch up with your significant other, get some fresh air and aerobic activity together while you chat about things – or just keep quiet and enjoy the scenery.

 

The beauties of walking for health are: 1) It’s free – well – maybe it wears your shoes out -,  2) It requires no special skills – anyone can do it,  3) Initially, walking requires no pre-determined level of fitness – start out slow and short distances – and build on that,  4) It is easy on the body – unlike the jarring to the knees, hips and spine of, say, running, 5) It is sociable – chat while you walk along, 6) It gets you fresh air in your lungs, 7) It requires no special gear or equipment or specific place (like a golf course or a ski hill).

 

Often, the best time to get a massage, is after a walk – when, bodily and mentally, you are relaxed and your muscles easily receive the massage therapist’s work.

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole

This is the third in a series of three articles about hot springs near Jackson Hole. Of course, ‘near’ is a relative term – so I’m talking about drives of ninety minutes or so from the town of Jackson, Wyoming. And this all started with the question: what do Jackson Hole Massage Professionals do during the off-seasons? – And just about any other local who gets to stick around for the slow times.

To find the third hot springs near Jackson Hole  we’re moving on to Granite Hot Springs

 Granite Hot Springs near Jackson Hole

– which is South of Jackson Hole off  Hoback Canyon on the way to Pinedale. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the Granite Creek Junction, deep within Hoback Canyon (Granite Creek is a tributary of the Hoback River). From the junction there, it’s ten miles east on a well-graded (mostly) dirt road to the hot springs. It’s a bumpy, dusty, stunningly beautiful drive up there – deep into the Gros Ventre Mountains which are massively high in the background behind the hot springs camp site. The camp site itself is lovely – not to do with the hot springs themselves…no – this just happens to be a Forest Service camp ground nearby – and it’s a great value at $14 per tent site. (Last time I looked.) Anyway – great spot of you’ve got a pop-up camper and want to spend some fun time in the out-doors, surrounded by Pine forest. In winter it’s a popular snow mobile destination – but in my view that kills the whole idea. It’s a long way on skate or classic Nordic touring skis – but do-able and the hot springs afterwards is a treat.  You don’t have to pay to go into the hot springs pool itself – there’s another hot spring in a rock wall and there are pools below to catch the hot water – which mixes with Granite Creek itself to cool it down. This is a neat spot because a major waterfall roars right beside you. Not bad for hot springs near Jackson Hole.

Image showing waterfall beside Granite Hotsprings

The hot springs pool is different from the other two mentioned. It’s completely open with just a short fence around it – and it’s curved outer wall hugs a mountain alcove – down whose slippery walls runs this steaming hot spring water.  Where the water falls into the pool – is where it is hot. The further you move away from the source of the spring – the cooler it gets. So it’s fun to cruise in and out of warm and cooler zones that circulate the pool. Right in against the cliff is where you hand out for warmth. There’s no specific temperature set for this pool as it is affected by snow-melt. The pool is an azure, milky blue and of course it’s just dreamy to be there like all the rest of them.

Image showing Granite hot springs 3

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole (Part II)

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole (Part II) – Heise Hot Springs

Rochelle celebrated her birthday for the second year at Heise Hot Springs just last week.

image showing Heise Hot Springs

There were about sixteen of us (not all massage therapists) and we all made the pleasant drive over Teton Pass, then Pine Creek Pass (turn left in Victor, ID), past the ‘World-Famous’ Square Ice-Cream Store at the Swan Valley Junction.

 

Then it’s 30 minutes of driving through vast potato plantations and all the while alongside the mighty Snake River. So to put you better in the picture, it’s about 3/4 of the way to Idaho Falls from Jackson Hole – turn off the road (right) at a couple of large potato silos, drive a few miles towards the Snake River (delightfully, the hot springs are right on one of the Snake River braids) through small farming communities (Ririe) – and you’re there. Here’s a Google Map: 5116 E. Heise Rd., Ririe, ID 83443

 

The hot pools and buildings themselves are standard fare, though a handsome old two-story brick house with dormers dominates the scene. That’s where the owners live. There’s an open-air ‘warm’ swimming pool (92’F)- surrounded by walls to keep out the weather, and at one end of that, covered by a canopy, is the hot pool – kept at 104’F. We found this to be a delightful temperature to hang out in for half an hour at a time. These two pools are kept open all winter and it’s a wonderful way to spend a day when skiing just doesn’t sound that great and the longs months of winter in Jackson Hole are getting OLD.

 

If lazing around in warm or hot pools isn’t your ball of wax – and you have kids with you – then in the summer time there’s a whole plethora of activities: zip line, open air swimming pool (open only Memorial Day through Labor Day), flume, RV and camping, gorgeous park by the river with picnic tables and BBQ grills. When we were there, the willows overhanging the river were just coming into leaf – like in the photo here – and it was a beautiful scene.

 

– and there’s even golf. Pizza can be had at a basic small restaurant on site – and it’s nice to sit out there on their sheltered deck and watch the golfers coming in. But we were there just to ‘chill’ – or, I should say, warm up while we chilled – oh well…you know what I mean.

Next week…another hot springs near Jackson Hole – Granite Creek.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

 

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole

Hot Springs near Jackson Hole

We’re deep in the off-season now in Jackson Hole. And the weather can be ‘iffy’. What do massage therapists and other seasonal workers in Jackson Hole do with themselves in the off-season? One of our favorite things  is to go to hot springs – all of which are about 90 minutes from Jackson.

 

Rochelle and I paid our first visit to Green Canyon Hot Springs recently, This is on the way to Rexburg, Idaho. To get to it from Jackson Hole, you have to drive over Teton Pass to Victor, north to Driggs and then towards Rexburg. The Green Canyon Hot Springs is about half-way between Driggs and Rexbuirg – four miles south at highway mile marker 116 on Hwy 33 in the northern foothills of the Big Hole mountains – which flank the western edge of Teton Valley, Idaho. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Jackson Hole for thirteen years and never been there before. It’s an absolute delight. There are two pools – one is an Olympic sized swimming / playing pool with temps of about 96’F, the other pool is pure relaxation with temps at about 105’F. These are fed from a spring that emerges from the ground at 115′. The hot springs have been run by the same family since 1953 – the present building was built in 1947. It’s definitely showing its age and needs some TLC – but then there’s just tons of character.

 

The hot pool area itself is what one might imagine as ‘Heaven’. It’s like a greenhouse and all painted a light blue. There’s a surreal feeling of peace and well-being. (Hence relevant to this massage blog.) The temperature of 105’F is a little much to stay in for long – but steps emerge from the pool and you can submerge yourself in there as little or as much as you like – and of course take a dip in the cooler pool when you need to. Speaking of which…there’s a ‘Plunge Pool’ at 55’F – quite a shocking quick dip in there will do much to cool you down, that’s for sure.

 

The drive to Green Canyon Hot Springs is really quite delightful – through potato fields that are typical of Idaho, it’s nice to see this way of life and the farms laid out. And the views of the Tetons on our return Journey towards the Teton Valley…stunning:

 

 

Overall, an afternoon there (or a day – take a picnic – or a couple of days – go camping with the kids) is relaxation defined. Ahhh…we love off-seasons on Jackson Hole.

Next week I’ll talk about the other two hot springs near Jackson Hole – Granite Creek, up Hoback Canyon, and Heise Hot Springs – also in Idaho but on the way to Idaho Falls.

Be well,

 

Rochelle and Hamish

 

Massage Client Expectations.

Massage Client Expectations.

At massage Professionals of Jackson Hole, we see two main types of clients. There are our regular customers who come more to our office at 270 Veronica Lane, and there are our out-call clients who have us come to their home to give them their massage(s). The latter are more generally visitors to the area on vacation – and, so far, we tend to see those people just once. (That may hopefully change as time goes by and they visit again.)

With regular clients to the office – we get to know who they are and what their need for massage is based on. We start to get a history, write SOAP notes about their visits – and the ‘P’ in SOAP is ‘plan’ which we can make, together with the client. If a client doesn’t have any specific complaints or ‘work to be done’ – then that’s OK – a relaxation massage is just as beneficial and we get to know how to deliver that the more often we see a person. On the subject of this post – ‘Expectations’, it’s a much easier task to provide a client’s expectations with regular clients.

It’s the one-time massage client where that becomes much more difficult. We’ve never seen them before and, aside from a quick intake form, know essentially nothing about them. With a regular client, the first session is more about discovery (on both the part of the client and the massage therapist) than therapy. Even the second session is still a ‘getting-to-know-you’ period of time, and that most essential element, trust, is being built up. Therefore sometimes it is hard to meet the expectations of a one-and-only time massage client who has been skiing hard at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and wishes us to sort out all that ails him so that he can ski next day. (Could just as easily be ‘she’.)

 

My point is that most massage therapists are very capable of giving a darn good overall massage – from relaxation to deep tissue – all over the body and applying specific work to specific areas as requested. But before a massage therapist can really deliver exactly the specific massage the client wants / needs – there has to be knowledge, trust, understanding, confidence built up between the two and that takes time.

 

If you are a one-time client visiting a massage office or having them come to you, it’s good to have an understanding of this and lower your expectations. Of course, it’s important to list the areas where you feel you’d like attention – and the therapist will fit that into the overall massage – but with 60 minutes in which to work their magic, understand that there may be limits and allow for the ‘relaxation’ part of massage to be just as beneficial as specific work.

 

Be well,        Hamish and Rochelle

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

Image showing deep tissue massage

Yes, those were my client’s actual words. And, believe me, for the first hour of this two-hour massage – that’s precisely what I thought I had been doing…and exhausting myself in the process. I should qualify that – and I explained this to my client before he got onto the table – it can’t ‘all’ be deep tissue massage. Perhaps a third of it will be – and then only in areas that merit deep work (in my view) and aren’t ‘danger zones’ (poplietal, lower back, for example). The other two thirds of the time consist of gentler work where, first, I am bringing the client into a comfortable relaxed zone in both body and mind – this in order for me to gain ‘permission’ to go deeper. To the same goal I am also warming with vibration, loosening with tapotement, assessing and ‘melting’ muscles with both soft and more aggressive effleurage and sometimes still pressure.

 

This post is a continuation of the previous post ‘Taking it Easy’ – and the client has skied a combined vertical of 30,000 ft. that day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Having employed a mountain ski guide in uniform – he didn’t have to wait in lift or tram lines.

 

This client is an athlete through-and-through – every muscle an element of a highly-tuned machine. A body-builder and a TRX exerciser. He has every right to ask for a deep tissue massage and frankly I was apprehensive going into it. He is accustomed to receiving sports massages from his sports trainer twice per week. And so, back to the beginning, after giving it all I had in the way of ‘deep pressure without hurting’ – I discovered that he actually wanted me to hurt him. My client, nicely, let me know that nothing I had done so far had made much impression. The expectations had been high. It is also worth noting here that, in deep tissue or sports massage – communication is everything (unlike Swedish massage where I, and usually the client, prefer to keep quiet). He should have felt free to comment much earlier – and I should have solicited.

I’m no slouch either…a mountain athlete myself with a regular workout schedule. I understand the human form – especially from an athletic perspective. I’m 6’2, 195 lbs and can deliver a good, strong massage – not often letting people down.

 

By this time I was massaging the calves – often a tender area, especially on skiers, and there was nothing – no amount of pressure I could lay on with all of my weight – that could elicit a twitch in those tell-tale fingers or any sign of pulling away. Yet he still described having discomfort that HE thought I could address – which I could only contribute to the peroneal muscles -where, I admit, I rarely ‘go’ with clients. ‘OK – you asked for it – I thought – and went in there deep and long with the very point of my elbow and stripped like crazy. Aha – that did it! I could feel him breathing into it and enjoying the pain and, yes, relief that it gave him. This gave me confidence and much more ‘permission’ from both him and his body to go deeper to the point of pain (and – for him – relief) – which I did for the rest of his massage – including, incredibly, a strong elbowing of his biceps and triceps tendons (he had considerable tendinitis there, I think, from the TRX exercises and a hand-dragging trick in snowboarding called ‘pat-the-dog’).

 

My experience as a massage therapist grew with that session. Beyond knowing that I had done well by receiving the biggest tip of my career, my confidence soared along with my ability to expand my offering of (very) deep tissue massage to well-tuned athletic hard-men (and women) who need it.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

 

 

 

 

Taking it Easy

Taking It Easy

We are fortunate to provide massage services in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Unlike summers, when visitors are here to experience the National Parks of Teton and Yellowstone, in winter they’re here primarily for skiing. And it just so happens that Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is one of the gnarliest ski mountains there is – in terms of steeps, difficulties and oodles of snow.

Image showing map of Jackson Hole

 

From a massage perspective – this is good for us – people come here, ski hard and then are in dire need of massage. Sounds simple enough – but this post comes as a note of caution. Hey – don’t get me wrong – I’ll take the massage clients as it’s what I do for a living…but can I really make people better? Am I really the answer to what ails them after a hard day of skiing?

Jackson Hole has recently been graded as number 1 in ‘SKI’ magazine – and so folks flock here to ski. Even if they just ski for that one week or two per year – they choose this challenging mountain to do so. Skiing at Jackson consists of long, hard days using muscles that are not in shape.

 

As a long-time skier, having lived in Vail, Colorado for twenty years, and Jackson Hole for thirteen – I can opine that skiers should pick their terrain according to their ability. Perhaps the first good thing they can do for their bodies (prevention is better than cure), is choose a ski area where there is much more intermediate terrain – like Vail – because let’s face it – if you only ski once per year – you’re probably intermediate. At least your muscles are. And you’ll have a better time as ego creeps in as you master those easier slopes with ease. (I’m just talking about ski terrain here – Vail itself – well – I left there for a reason. Jackson and its environs are fantastic – but the skiing – is hard on the body.)

Massage – seekers come to me and ask if I can fix their considerable pain (usually lower-back) so that they might ski (hard) again tomorrow. I’m as fanatic a skier as the next guy – but whoa – there comes a time when it just makes sense to take the day off. No matter how good a massage therapist might be – there’s nothing that can be done for all the over-use of those hip-rotators, glutes, hamstrings, quads, erectors – and just about every other muscle in your body. Sometimes I have to even turn people away, saying that massage may hurt their (acute) problem even further. The muscle spasm in the lower back is a natural splinting mechanism that is in place specifically to protect the body from further harm – and massage can be contra-indicated.

Take a day or two off skiing. Visit the hot tub, relax in bed, go shopping, read a book, veg in front of the TV, call your Mom, BREATHE. Sometimes massage isn’t the answer to everything.

 

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle