9 Benefits of Reflexology

How to Get The Most Out of Your Next Massage

Massage 12

Communication, Communication, Communication

It is so important to be in good communication with your massage therapist.  Unfortunately we cannot read your mind so we need you to communicate with us.  We want to hear things like what your primary concern for the session is for that day. Is it just to relax?  Maybe you’ve been dealing with some neck pain and would like us to address that.  Maybe you pulled some muscles in your back and want to work on your back only.  We want to hear all of that so we can customize a session to meet your needs and desires.

Please let us know if you need more pressure or less, if a technique is hurtful or just feels weird, or if you’d like us to spend more time on an area.  Tell us if you’re too hot or too cold.  If you’re not comfortable you won’t be able to relax very well.  Tell us if there are areas where you’re ticklish or do not wished to be touched.  Let us know about conditions or diseases you may have and medications you’re taking.  Inform us if anything has changed with your health from session to session.

Also, don’t forget to tell us what you like about your session so we can make sure to include those elements in your next session.  We love to be able to give you the most pleasurable experience with us.

Punctuality

Please come to your session on time.  If you are running late, please be courteous enough to call and let your therapist know. If you’re late it will cut into your massage time and who really wants their session shortened?  As therapists we rarely have the luxury to just move your session time back and still give you a full session, as we usually will have another client after you and we don’t want to keep another client waiting because you were late.

Have an Open Mind

There may be times when your massage therapist works on an area or areas in which you’re might not be completely comfortable.  Definitely communicate with your therapist if you’re truly uncomfortable, but try and stretch yourself a bit.  Many of my clients do not care for their abdomen or buttocks to be massaged.  I find this such a travesty, as I think both areas not only deserve to be touched (as they are large muscled areas and affect many other areas), but feel incredibly relaxing to have them massaged.  Just like trying anything new, it can seem weird and uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t try it you might be missing out on a wonderfully blissful and beneficial experience.

So just try something new, whether it’s a new area of your body that you allow your therapist to touch or a new massage style. There’s such a wealth of massage and bodywork styles and techniques that we have at our disposal, why not avail yourself to as many of them in which your therapist has been trained.

In addition, be aware that your therapist might work on areas that you think are irrelevant to the issue you are wanting addressed.  You might come to your massage therapist with a complaint about shoulder pain, but your therapist might spend quite a bit of time on your back and feet.  There are multiple reason why this might happen, but just know that pain in one area is rarely isolated to that area only. Trigger Point work, reflexology and acupressure techniques work on the theory that working on points or areas of the body, say parts of the feet, can affect a distal area, like the shoulder.  If you’re confused or unsure about what your therapist is doing, again, refer to my first point and just ask, we would be happy to explain what we doing and why.

Breathe

Breathing is vital to the success of your massage session.  If you are holding your breath because a technique is painful then you’ve lost much of the benefit of the technique.  Breathing deep and slow breaths will ensure a relaxing and effective experience.  If you notice you’re tensing or holding your breath just gently relax and continue to breathe deeply.

Now go and enjoy your next massage to the fullest.

 

Touch – The Great Communicator

Touch - The Great CommunicatorTouch is the great communicator.  It has the incredible ability to expresses our thoughts and emotions without words. It can show someone that you care, that you like them, that you sympathize with them or support them.  It can also communicate negative emotions like anger or frustration.  Touch can communicate in obvious ways as well as more subtle ways where you might leave an interaction with someone and have such a positive feeling about it just because someone touched you. Touch even communicates our sense of self – our comfortability with a person or our confidence in ourselves.  I’m sure you’ve had an experience like I have where you’ve gone to shake someone’s hand and it felt like a limp noodle. You’ve probably also had the unfortunate experience of shaking someone’s hand who seems to intent to crush your hand in a bone grinding grip.  Just makes you wonder…

Try out the following experiment and see if you can tell the difference between three emotions.  Find yourself a partner.  Your goal is to see if your partner can tell which of three emotions you’re trying to communicate – tenderness, anger and detachment.  Have your partner hold out his arm for you and close his eyes.  As the giver, really feel the emotion you’re wanting to communicate before you touch your partner.  Try to recall a vivid time when you experienced that emotion. For tenderness, think of someone you love and feel protective of.  For Anger, imagine a time where you got really ticked off at someone and wanted to let them have it.  For detachment, try doing some multiplication like 495 x 3.   Once you’re able to feel the emotion, place your hand on your partner’s arm for about 5-10 seconds, as you continue to feel the emotion, then take your arm away.  Pause for a few moments to feel the next emotion then repeat until you’ve worked through all three emotions.  Then have your partner open his eyes and ask him to identify which of the three emotions you communicated at each time.  For even more fun, have your partner now be the giver and try and communicate to you the three different emotions and see if you can identify them.  I’ve rarely seen this done where people can’t identify at least two out of the three emotions.  Let me know how the experiment goes for you.

Living Without Touch

Living Without TouchWe’ve already looked at the some of the many benefits of touch and you might be thinking that living without touch might not seem like a big deal, but let’s consider a few studies that hopefully will show just how dire is our need for it.

In a famous study by Harry and Margaret Harlow at the University of Wisconsin showed that baby monkeys deprived of their mother’s bodily comfort grew up to be irritable, aggressive, snarling and violent. Human babies show the same behavior.

A study of boredom was done at McGill University in which male subjects lay on beds in lighted cubicles twenty four hours a day.  They wore translucent plastic visors that permitted light to reach their eyes, but the objects they saw were blurred.  They lay with their heads on U-shaped pillows that limited but did not cut off their ability to hear.  On their hands they wore cotton gloves and cardboard cuffs extending beyond their fingertips so that at no time were they able to feel anything with their fingers and hands.  In a short time – only a matter of hours for some – they were unable to think clearly.  Their thoughts became disjointed and incoherent.  They experienced numbness, lethargy, a free-floating sensation of their physical beings gradually disintegrating. – W. Heron, “The Pathology of Boredom,”  Scientific American, January 1957.

Dr. Rene Spitz, in his book, “The First Year of Life,” related his experience working at a hospital for abandoned babies and babies whose mothers were in prison, that he became alarmed to realized that infants who were well-fed and kept in sanitary conditions suffered a high death rate from a disease called marasmus, a Greek word meaning “shriveling-up or wasting-away of the flesh without apparent cause.”  Later, Dr. Spitz encountered babies in the orphanage in Mexico where the children were thriving even amidst less than sanitary conditions.  After observing thousands of babies, Dr. Spritz concluded that touched babies thrived, while those left alone in bassinets tended to become ill, their cells dying of touch starvation.

The University of Georgia studied forty-two people who were seventy or more years old between “sensory deficits” and senile traits such as irritability, forgetfulness, and careless grooming or eating habits.  The elderly who received massages, frequent stroking, hugs, squeezes of the hands and arms, love pats on the cheeks and affectionate touches of their heads, showed fewer signs of senility. – Patrick M. O’Neil an dKaren S. Calhoun, “Sensory Deficits and Behavioral Deterioration in Senescence,”  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. 84, mo. 5 (Oct. 1975)

What these studies indicate is that a lack of touch leads to ill effects such as disorientation, lack of clear thinking, psychic breakdowns, aggression and even death.

In light of these depressing facts, why don’t you go out and touch someone today.  Lift their spirits and yours.  Bring some comfort and nurturing to their lives as well as your own!

The Benefits of Touch

images-4I feel as if I shouldn’t even need to write about the benefits of touch – that somehow we all should just KNOW how necessary it is to our life and health.  After all who doesn’t know how amazing a hug can be or how delicious a scalp massage is, or how delightful it is to walk arm in arm with your romantic interest?  Who would argue with the bliss of a kiss or the comfort of a hand on our cheek or the joy of being tickled?  Do I really need to go on?

As much as we might agree that touch can be wonderful, let me further detail just how beneficial it can be.

Touch is our first sense to develop.  It is the largest sensory organ of our bodies and the primary sense in which we first explore our world.  Helen Colton writes in her book, The Gift of Touch, “Touch is the most important, and yet most neglected, of our senses.  We can survive without sight; blind people do.  We can survive without hearing; deaf people do. We can survive without being able to taste; many of us do.  We can survive without the sense of smell…  But we cannot survive and live with any degree of comfort and mental health when we are not able to feel.  A complete loss of our sense of touch can send us into a psychotic breakdown.”

Here’s some interesting benefits of touch:

  • Stimulates the production of chemicals like endorphins
  • Stimulates the nervous system  into a state of relaxation
  • Decreases anxiety and cortisol levels
  • Bonds us with others, especially our mothers after birth
  • Increases learning and test-taking abilities
  • Reduces depression and the use of medications
  • Releases muscle tension
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Increases mental clarity and alertness
  • Helps sleep patterns
  • Enhances self-esteem
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain
  • Increases sense of well-being
  • Increases blood flow
  • Aids in digestion
  • Helps reduce need for caffeine
  • Aids in pregnancy and delivery by reducing stress and pain and increasing relaxation
  • Lessens aggressive behavior

The list could go on and on.  But with all the overwhelming benefits touch provides maybe it could be simplified by saying that comforting touch just feels good and is a pleasure we all deserve!

Touch is Essential for Life

Touch is Essential for Life

You might not believe it, but touch is essential for life and health.

We need touch – not only to survive but to thrive.  Without it we become withdrawn, depressed, anxious, detached, aggressive and it can evenlead to wasting away and eventually death.  We’ve been created to need human contact, and as much as we might not like it at times, touch is essential for life.  We need plenty of it, especially the good, nourishing kind.

It can be so easy to get caught up in the busyness and stress of life and forget the physical and mental health benefits of someone’s caring hands on you.  Who doesn’t love getting a back rub, or a great scalp massage when when your hair stylist is shampooing your hair, or the embrace of a friend when you meet up for coffee? Who hasn’t felt the reassurance of a loved one’s hand squeezing yours to give moral support or comfort?  Often our need for touch doesn’t occur to us until we have a moment where we realize, “Ahhh… that was just what I needed.”

I had one such moment a few weeks ago.  I’ve been transitioning myself out of my current job, where I’ve been managing a hotel in order to pursue my massage business full-time. A co-worker came up behind me and massaged my shoulders for just a few seconds.  It was such a startling reminder that, “Oh yeah, I need this.”  I hadn’t realized how stressed I’d been with training someone new to take my place as well and working on my own business until my co-worker massaged touched my shoulders.

 

My sister also had an experience with the need for touch recently.  She had gone in to her doctor to have a sensitive medical procedure done the other day and mentioned how the nurse was so reassuring.  She just lightly put the back of her hand on my sister’s leg and occasionally rubbed it as if to say, “I’m here. Everything will be alright.”  That slight touch helped calm her fears during the procedure and made the world of difference to her that day.

 

In the next few posts I’ll be exploring more about the different health benefits of touch as well as the detrimental effects lack of touch has on our lives.

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