Bodywork that's more than skin deep

Massage therapy is just one part of a healing regimen. Yoga or daily stretching and breathing exercises are key elements in preventing injury, reducing stress and maintaining overall health. They extend the benefits of massage treatments! A balanced diet, exercise, plenty of water and laughter are also important aspects in a healthy lifestyle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Traditional Thai Herbal Massage

Photo courtesy of ABMP
Like traditional Thai massage, Thai herbal compresses have been used and practiced for the last 2500 years in Thailand.  The compresses are filled with a variety of healing herbs that help alleviate pain and increase circulation.  The hot herbal compresses are steamed and act as a heat therapy during a Thai massage.   The medicinal herbs are blended, wrapped and tied to make firm fragrant bundles.  The bundles are steamed in an electric steamer for several minutes, slowly releasing their rejuvenating and healing scents and oils.  They are then pressed against the body during the course of the Thai Massage.  The moist heat from these herb bundles absorbs into the tissues, melting away tension and soreness. 
     Thai herbal massage is an excellent massage alternative for the pregnancy client.  It's a safe and nourishing way to receive a Thai massage since a traditional Thai massage may be too aggressive for her.  Thai herbal massage is also very good for the client who is really stiff and inflexible.  The steamed herb bundles help to warm up and relax the muscle tissue while also helping to increase the elasticity.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Diaphragmatic Breathing Helps Heal Anxiety

Breathing is essential to life and we need oxygen in our bodies to live. However, most of us do not realize that we are taking shallow breaths that deny us the oxygen our bodies need to operate optimally. One way to remedy this is by practicing a deep-breathing technique called diaphragmatic breathing. We can use this very simple, yet powerful practice to help relieve stress and ease muscular tension.

Doing deep diaphragmatic breathing can help relieve muscular tension around the thoracic area, the back, the shoulders and the neck.  It will also help stretch out the important umbrella-shaped muscle, the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is attached to the inner surface of the ribcage and has a central tendon that attaches to the connective tissue surrounding the lungs. This diaphragmatic tendon is directly connected to our ability to inhale fresh oxygen into the lungs. When you take a deep breath into your abdomen, your diaphragm's muscle fibers contract and pull this central tendon down. This creates a vacuum in the top part of the chest cavity "pulling" air into your lungs. When you exhale, this relaxes the diaphragm and central tendon allowing the lungs to deflate. When both your abdomen and the lower half of your ribcage are expanding, you are correctly stretching the diaphragm.  Think about your ribcage inflating in all three dimensions. 

This particular deep breathing method is key because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the "rest and digest" part of the nervous system.   The parasympathetic response creates a feeling of relaxation and promotes digestion and also helps bring larger amounts of oxygen to all the muscle tissues in the body.  Diaphragmatic breathing helps anxiety disorders, hyperventilation, hiccups and stuttering.  I encourage the use of this type of deep breathing in my massage treatments to help my client go more deeply into a relaxed state.  I especially use this breathing approach on clients when performing diaphragmatic release, a targeted massage technique.  It's an intense but very effective method for people who experience high levels of anxiety and have trouble breathing.

Try the following diaphragmatic exercise if you're feeling anxious or feeling like you're not getting enough air into your lungs. 

-Lay down in a comfortable position on your back. Use a pillow under your knees for more comfort.
-Place one hand on your belly and the other on your solar plexus.
-Take a slow relaxing deep breath in through your nose.  Inhale deeply into your belly.
-Be aware of your abdomen and ribcage expanding and inflating like a balloon. 
-Once you've reached the extent of your inhalation, exhale slowly through your mouth.  Be sure your lips are slightly closed to allow your exhalation to be slow but relaxed. Exhale all your air completely.
-Repeat for 5-10 minutes, or longer if desired. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Headache Solutions

 The most common type of headaches are tension headaches that stem from long hours at the computer, in front of the sewing machine, or any other work where you are found hunching over for hours during the week.  Sometimes these headaches are found in just one spot over your eye, in your jaw, or at the back of your skull.  The good news is that good deep massage work in your neck, shoulder and scalp can solve these painful aches in your head.  There are advanced mysofascial techniques that are very effective with this type of headache tension.  If you have not had a massage in quite sometime, booking an appointment with your therapist could just be the answer.   If you have any questions, please email or call me and I'd love to answer any that you may have.
Warmest regards, Maree, LMT