Gripping a steering wheel. Working a trackpad or mouse. Hovering over keyboards. And stoves. And laundry. You get it.
We put our hands and forearms through an awful lot of stress every day. Squeezing and clenching and buckling and writing. All of it. And yet, when I start to massage a hand and forearm, I often hear, “Oh! I had no idea my arms were so sore!” It’s a common surprise, but not really a surprise.
They get sore. And when they get really overworked, we end up with carpal tunnel, tendonitis, trigger finger and a whole host of other issues.
The upside here: it’s pretty easy to massage your own hands and forearms. Here’s how:
Start at the top. Using the opposite hand, gently squeeze the meaty, fleshy areas just below your elbow. Squeeze on the inside of your arm then on the outside. Gently is the key here, don’t be jamming your thumb in there hard and causing pain. It should feel good, and if it doesn’t, back off a bit.
If you want to get fancy, roll the wrist around and wiggle the fingers as you squeeze. Do that light squeezing all the way down to the wrist, and do this a few times, up and down the forearm to cover all the territory there.
Then move to the hand, using a light pincer grip, squeeze that meaty area at the base of your thumb. Lightly squeeze up and down all those finger bones through the palm, and up each finger. When you find a good spot, stick around it for an extra minute.
Whatever feels good to you is just fine. Then, switch hands and do it again on the other arm! Better yet, find a buddy and massage each other’s arms and hands.
If you’ve got carpal tunnel or tendonitis, or just achiness and pain that you can’t figure out, you may need even more attention to keep those issues at bay. For this, I suggest you see a massage therapist. Yup. That’s me. I can work on those issues, and teach you some self care techniques to practice at home, too.
In many ways “procrastination” is a naughty word. To some it implies laziness, being unmotivated, distracted, unfocused and countless other trigger words. It means that we aren’t getting the things done and we are failing as contributing adults.
Now maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe it’s not. The point is we heap a bunch of responsibilities and pressure on ourselves. There is always a deadline and there is always the next thing to complete.
But where is the real procrastination?
More often than not we are procrastinating on our self-care and the things that really matter. This National Procrastination Week (March 5-11) we are all about the holiday that is devoted to putting things off and delaying those oh-so-important tasks.
The focus for this holiday isn’t inactivity, but in being active in getting a mental and emotional break which will lead to decreased stress and anxiety. And as massage therapists, we are all about that.
Here are a few ways you can indulge in procrastination. (Don’t worry, all that other stuff will still be there when you’re done.)
Ahhh, a good book - there’s nothing like it. No matter the genre, reading is the quickest escape route into another land. Once you pass through that portal there’s no turning back. And if business or finance books are more your speed, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the escape is in learning something new. Grab your library card or pay your local athenaeum a visit. Many great reads await you.
Is there a hobby or enjoyable activity you’ve been putting off? Now is a good time to pick it up. Bake your favorite cookies. Cook a meal that reminds you of someone special. Knit a scarf. Write in a journal. Paint a canvas, an end table, or a masterpiece. Whatever your “thing” is lose yourself in it.
Raise your hand if you procrastinate on doing dishes and laundry. (*raises hand*) While some find household chores relaxing, others can’t stand them or just never seem to have the time for them. Cleaning has become a “hurry up and get it over with” activity. Slow down a little and do the dishes by hand. Even if you don’t find it relaxing, you’ll walk away with a little more gratitude for the modern-day luxuries.
In some instances, exercise has become another chore. We do it because we know we need to and it will keep us fit and healthy. Sometimes we don’t see the benefit until it’s over and working out becomes another task we must complete. Try approaching exercise in a new way. Find something you enjoy doing. Something you can look forward to. Try yoga or meditation (for those with busy minds, keep a notebook nearby to jot down fleeting thoughts) or go for a walk on a new trail or in a different neighborhood. Just get out there and move.
Drink coffee. Drink tea. Drink margaritas. Get dressed up for a night on the town or dress down for a night in. Fly solo or invite a friend. For some, socializing recharges their batteries while others find energy in solitude. Do what suits you and I promise you’ll feel refreshed.
Find the nearest hammock, couch or shade. Sleep is essential and we don’t get nearly enough. The benefits of sleep range from improved memory, sparked creativity, improved athletic performance and weight loss to lower anxiety and depression levels. Granted getting a good night’s sleep won’t prevent you from all disease, but quality sleep is a key factor in a healthy lifestyle.
It’s no surprise that our favorite way to indulge in procrastination is through massage. We would start and finish our day with a massage if we could. The mental and physical break in a treatment room cannot be beat. And if you’re still feeling the need to be productive, multitask by scheduling a massage and nap while you are there!
In case you didn’t pick up on it, procrastination week is also about changing habits. It’s about incorporating enjoyable activities in our busy, stressed out lives. It’s about finding some peace while being productive and keeping things in balance. Being riddled with daily stress and anxiety serves no one. Especially you.
We usually don’t think about our feet. Until they hurt. We tend to take them for granted, but like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some attention.
When they start to hurt it can lead to many other problems.
When your feet hurt you don’t want to do much of anything. You just want to stay off of them. Your body likes to move, though. And your brain functions better when you are active. So foot pain can quickly lead to other issues.
Foot pain can cause of other pain in your body. If your foot hurts, you change the way you stand, walk, and move. Those changes affect your legs. When your legs hurt, you make more changes in what you do, which affects your hips, then your back, then your neck.
Some jobs involve being on your feet most of the day. Often it is on hard floors or rough terrain. You may have a long walk from the parking lot to your job.
At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our belongings. We shop, stand chatting with a friend, stand in lines, and walk around doing errands. We cook, do laundry, clean and put things away. You may make multiple trips up and down stairs every day. Yard work and home maintenance keeps us on our feet as well.
You may kick things out of the way or stomp your feet to let out some frustration. You may do extra walking for exercise or from an inconvenience, or run to make it somewhere on time.
If you enjoy sports you use your feet to run, jump, and kick. Your feet take a real pounding since they support all your body weight along with the extra force from the exertion.
For exercise or fun activities you use your feet for yoga and fitness classes, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance - and hauling all of your equipment around..
Your feet have things dropped on them and they get stepped on. You step on unexpected things such as rocks, tools, or toys (Legos!).
All of your leg joints are all affected by your feet. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving foot pain allows your muscles and joints to be in their proper positions and with less pressure on them you feel better.
We squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes or boots. Sometimes it may be for the sake of fashion, such as high heels. Other times work footwear is uncomfortable. Sandals may be more comfortable but they may not provide the support your feet need.
Massage provides relief from Plantar Fasciitis, heel pain, and other common foot pain. Most muscles that move your foot start in your calf, so relieving foot pain can also reduce calf pain too.
Your feet do a lot for you. Give them some attention with a massage so you can keep doing what you want.
Cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? November 10th is National Vanilla Cupcake Day and we’re here to celebrate. We’ve covered some heavier topics in previous posts, so this month we are going to lighten the mood with cake.
Share with friends.
We know it’s hard to share any dessert, but cupcakes are the perfect addition to any coffee date. Catch up with a friend, drink some coffee, tea or cocoa, and savor the moments.
If you like to bake, step out of your comfort zone and attempt to create a cupcake with unique ingredients. Try a savory cupcake. Or attempt a new decorating style.
Trying to cut back on the sweets? Tune in to Cupcake Wars on Food Network and watch all the yummy goodness without the calories.
What better way to bond with a special person in your life. It may be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, anything goes here. It goes beyond the treat and makes the quality time spent together that much sweeter.
Give a gift.
Cupcakes make a perfectly sweet gift. Couple that with a massage gift certificate http://www.braillebodywork.com and you’ll knock gift-giving out of the park.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this holiday celebrates the cupcake as much as the people and relationships around it. Take a time out, bring some cupcakes to an elderly neighbor, or simply slow down and enjoy life. Cupcakes and all.
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder characterized by jerky, uncontrollable movements and poor coordination. These symptoms result from the death of cells in the basal ganglia, a group of interconnected brain structures important for initiating and coordinating movement.
This image highlights the interaction between two structures of the developing basal ganglia in an embryonic mouse. Nerve fibers (green) from one structure called the striatum are making their way toward a structure called the globus pallidus (pink). Scientists have discovered that a protein in the brain helps to shepherd some of these nerve fibers to other parts of the basal ganglia. Without it, many of the fibers fail to make it past the globus pallidus and instead accumulate in a ball, as seen here. Studying how the basal ganglia develops could shed light on Huntington’s disease and other movement disorders.
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and we are going to jump right in and look at some ways to stop the pain before it starts. Are you ready? Let’s go.
If certain foods or scents have triggered headaches in the past, it could be time to make a note of them and avoid them at all costs. Things like caffeine, cigarette smoke, and bright lights can be a big culprit in spurring on pain, but it doesn’t have to be that obvious. Perfumes, loud noises, flowers, and even lunch meat have the power to make you miserable.
Exercising on a regular basis reduces tension and can help prevent headaches. Choose something you enjoy doing - walking, biking, kayaking, hiking, etc. - and follow the proper guidelines for the exercise you’re engaging in. That means stretching and warming up slowly. And don’t forget proper hydration.
Bonus: It is also said that obesity can be a factor in triggering migraines, so exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose excess pounds.
Eat and sleep regularly
Lack of sleep and skipping meals can aggravate symptoms for the migraine sufferer. Make sure you are getting enough fluids and are eating meals at regular times. Lack of sleep (or even getting too much sleep) will also aggravate symptoms, so implement routine and stick to it.
Stress. Stress. Stress. It happens. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid. The only thing we can change is our response to it. Learn techniques to reduce stress levels like breathing, yoga and meditation. You can also combat stress with a massage, a long walk, a hot shower, or whatever you need to do to take the edge off.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Acknowledging the triggers and patterns surrounding your migraine episodes will help you figure out what’s causing them and minimize your chances of experiencing headache pain.
Name: Apple Cider Vinegar
Most Commonly Found: Apple cider vinegar is made from apples, so it is found wherever apples are grown. In the United States, more than 60 percent of all apples are grown in Washington, but apples are grown in more than 30 states. New Zealand is also a major importer of apples worldwide.
Stone Cold Facts: Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple must, and it has a brownish-gold color. It is often sold as a natural product, unfiltered and unpasteurized with the mother of vinegar present. It is also often diluted with fruit juice or water, or sweetened (usually with honey) for consumption as a health beverage.
What to Heal: Apple cider vinegar truly is practical magic, containing a plethora of healing benefits. Some consume cider vinegar mixed with water, which is said to help stomach problems. It helps treat diarrhea, thanks to its antibiotic properties. Experts say that apple cider vinegar contains pectin, which can help soothe intestinal spasms. It also helps with indigestion and nausea.
Apple cider vinegar is also said to cure hiccups, sore throats (gargle with it), leg cramps (due to high potassium), bad breath (gargle with it), fade bruises (by dabbing it), and detoxify the body as a whole.
It can whiten teeth and eliminate bacteria and stains in your mouth and gums.
It also helps clear a stuffy nose since it contains potassium, which thins mucus and the acetic acid in it to help prevent bacteria growth, which could contribute to nasal congestion. It helps relieve asthma and allergies.
Apple cider vinegar has been proven to lower cholesterol and helps aid weight-loss, because the acetic acid suppresses your appetite, increases your metabolism, and reduces water retention. It can also balance blood sugar in the body, according to multiple studies.
Dr. Oz also recommends apple cider vinegar as a dandruff treatment, since the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. For best results, mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water in a spray bottle and spritz your hair. Let your hair sit in a towel for 15 minutes to an hour and then wash your hair.
Another beauty tip is that apple cider vinegar can help cure acne and improve the skin's health overall. It makes a great natural toner, making skin look healthier. Its antibacterial properties help keep acne under control, and the malic and lactic acids found in apple cider vinegar soften and exfoliate the skin, reduce red spots, and balance the pH of your skin. In addition, it is a great cure for sunburns.
It can also eliminate bacteria on the fingernails and toenails. It kills Athlete's Foot altogether. It reduces inflammation and migraines, as well as get rid of warts, bug bites, and jellyfish sting injuries. It is also said to help kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing. Feeling tired? Apple cider vinegar also boosts energy. It counteracts the buildup of lactic acid in the body, which causes fatigue. It also contains potassium and enzymes that can relieve exhaustion. - See more...
As we head into the stressful fall season of early wake-ups, busy days and earlier nightfall, consider adding an oil massage to your morning or evening beauty routine.
In the morning, try giving yourself an oil massage before your shower. The heat of the shower will open the pores, helping the skin to absorb the oil. This will not only help the skin but will also help to ground the air energy in the body and mind that is making you feel anxious. Sesame oil is an excellent fall oil as it is both nourishing and warming. Mahanarayan oil is another great warming oil, and is particularly good for aching joints and pain.
In the evening, try massaging your body with warmed organic oil (grapeseed, jojoba, or almond work nicely), spiced with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Sink into a hot tubful of water, close your eyes, and soak. Mentally scan your body, part by part. Imagine placing a tiny ritual offering at the doorway of each of your body parts. For example, see a golden flame in your brain. Imagine a white rose petal at each eye. Taste a drop of honey on the tongue. Smell the smoke of sandalwood at your throat. Use your imagination and intuition. Keep going until you have filled your entire body with ritual offerings. Consider yourself anointed.
Whether you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, Mothers Day is time to honor those who've played this important role. Stepmothers, birthmothers, and godmothers too. While there are as many ways of being a mother as there are moms in the world, one thing is certain: it's a tough job, but a rewarding one. Here are just three ways massage might be of service to the mothers in your life.
Prenatal massage is a growing field, as training programs for massage therapists increase and old myths about massage during pregnancy fade. Massage can ease the aches and pains associated with increased weight, loosened ligaments, and shifts in center of gravity. There are all kinds of cushions and props that can help pregnant women relax comfortably on a massage table, no matter what their dimensions. Contrary to the old tale, massaging the feet, ankles, back, or even stomach will not cause miscarriage when done appropriately.
Of course, massage therapy, while helpful, isn't a cure-all. Massage can't stop that nosy neighbor from touching your belly every time she stops by, or cravings for hot Cheetos and root beer at 2:00 AM. But it can alleviate some of the symptoms that naturally come with growing a new human being, leaving expectant mothers more free to focus on the hope and joy that make pregnancy such a fabulous stage of life.
Adoptive and Foster Mothers
Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.
Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.
Mothers of Young Children
Unlike pregnant mothers, who often feel like their motherhood draws too much attention to themselves, society tells mothers of young children that their role is all about their children first, second, and last. Getting up in the middle of the night to change a leaking diaper? Chasing a toddler into the street? Taking time off work to care for a kindergartener with an ear infection? No matter, it's not about you, mom. It's about your kids.
It's true, to a point. Who wouldn't make sacrifices for their children? But one factor that can contribute to a healthy, happy childhood is a healthy, happy mother, and every person deserves to take steps towards their own well being, mothers too!
Massage therapy can help the body rest and recuperate from the effects of a busy schedule, interrupted sleep, and the physical strain of lifting and interacting with growing children. It also provides precious time for moms to focus on their own needs, apart from the responsibilities of mothering. And for those mothers who find themselves dealing with the very real condition of postpartum depression, massage may also play a role (although far from the only one) in an appropriate treatment plan.
Moms who are not moms
For women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, Mothers Day can be melancholy. There is great joy in being a Favorite Aunt, Baby Spoiler, and Super Supporter of all her friends with children, but we don’t have specific days to celebrate those roles. Women without children don’t always get all that snuggle time with little ones that raises oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Massage is a great way to get the happy chemicals pumping. If there’s a woman in your life who loves your children, or makes your job as a parent better or easier, Mothers Day is a great time to recognize her.
There's no one way to be a mother
Despite what the sensationalist headlines about the Mommy Wars would have us believe, and there's no one way to take care of your health and wellness. Whether the mother you're thinking of needs a sports massage after her next marathon or a deeply relaxing hour so she can doze, it's all worthwhile. So this Mothers Day, let's do all our moms a favor and call a ceasefire, honoring them in whatever ways make sense for their own lives.
Get your favorite mom(s) a massage gift certificate here. It’s easy, fast, and a gift she’ll love!
And to the mothers out there reading this, on Mothers Day and every day … here's to you.