Acute vs chronic inflammation and what you can do about it!

Inflammation is a physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection. Inflammation is now a buzz word that you hear almost daily, but knowing what it really means and the signs to look for will be very helpful in better understanding and combatting it. There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.  

Acute inflammation is that which begins rather quickly, intensifies, and then resolves in a relatively short period of time. Symptoms of acute inflammation include pain in the affected area, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat (feeling warm to the touch). These signs can apply to acute inflammation near the surface of the skin, which is obviously more noticeable, or deep within the body, resulting in less obvious signs. Some diseases and conditions that cause acute inflammation include acute bronchitis, physical trauma (like a cut or injured joint), high-intensity exercise, and tonsillitis.  

Chronic inflammation is a long-term inflammation that can last many months and, in some cases, even years. Chronic inflammation can be the result of an autoimmune disorder, being exposed to an irritant for a long period of time, or acute inflammation that isn’t resolved. A few conditions and diseases that are based in chronic inflammation are asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. Chronic inflammation is the most dangerous because the affected tissues cannot heal, and may be permanently damaged. 

Depending on the type of inflammation and the cause, the pain related to the inflammation will differ. Some will feel serious pain, stiffness, or discomfort, and it could be a constant or only occasional irritant. There are many ways to treat inflammation, but it varies depending on the cause. For a joint or muscular injury, physical therapy and massage therapy are often recommended, as are over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin, which are steroid free treatments. You also have medications that include steroids such as a creams and ointments for skin conditions, inhalers that help with asthma, and even herbal supplements such as turmeric and ginger that may help to reduce mild forms of inflammation throughout the body. 

There are certain foods that are thought to help reduce inflammation such as olive oil, tomatoes, walnuts and almonds, leafy greens like spinach and kale, fatty fish, and fruits like blueberries and oranges. There are also foods that some suggest to avoid if you struggle with inflammation such as fried foods, white breads and pastries that have refined carbohydrates, highly processed meats, sugary drinks, and margarine.  

If you are in tune with your body you can often tell when something is different. Whether you notice swelling, pain in your joints, stiffness, or any other sign, listen to your body. Try adjusting your diet to see if the presence of certain foods reduces the inflammation, or the absence of a certain food causes the discomfort. Seek out physical therapy, Manual lymphatic drainage massage therapy, and of course, talk with your doctor to determine what the best course of action is for your specific inflammatory issues.  

We offer Manual lymphatic drainage massage here at Windgate Healing arts, to book click here

Massage and chronic pain

Millions of people throughout the world battle chronic pain. While many think of it as just some mild achyness or soreness somewhere that comes and goes on a regular basis, those who live with it every day know it is far more than that. The pain can be debilitating and can take a toll on many other aspects of life.

People can experience a widespread pain that can affect numerous areas of the body, such as that associated with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Others may experience chronic pain more specifically isolated to an area, due to an injury or surgery.

No matter the cause, this persistent pain over months and years can affect so much more than just the physical body. Depression and chronic fatigue can often accompany the pain. Knowing that certain everyday activities are going to hurt has a major impact on a person’s mood. And the not knowing is just as powerful. Some days you may be able to go about your normal activities without much pain, and others are unbearable. Sometimes during those days with little to no pain, you’re still constantly thinking in the back of your mind “I’m going to pay for this tomorrow”.

That’s no way to live!

But unfortunately, the medical community still struggles with how to handle chronic pain. Other than surgical repairs to injuries, pain medications, injections, and the like, many chronic pain sufferers are left exasperated and defeated.

Did you know that massage therapy and other complementary forms of healthcare are becoming more and more prominent in the fight against chronic pain. For some, the idea of a person massaging their sore body is wonderful, and for other it’s terrifying. They don’t want to experience any more pain than they do already. But have no fear. Your massage is tailored to your needs completely. If that means doing the lightest form of pressure possible, that’s what you’ll get. If you want those sore areas “worked out”, that can be done too. Communication is key. If you want more or less pressure, let me know. If a certain area is too painful to touch that day, that’s fine too. It’s all about what you need, what you want, and what is best for you in the long run. 

Massage therapy isn’t just a relaxation method for those suffering with chronic pain; there are actually numerous benefits that can possibly help to ease your pain, both short-term and long-term. Beyond the initial relaxing of the body and calming of the mind during a massage, the act of physical touch has been shown time and again in research to have amazing benefits. Stretches and range of motion exercises can help to ease stiffness in the joints and improve movement. Healthy, safe touch causes your body to release several hormones (oxytocin) and neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins) that dull the pain and make you feel good. At the same time, your nervous system is being stimulated in a way that can “reset” things, so to speak. You’re basically re-training your nerves in how to perceive touch and pain – something that is theorized to be at the heart of chronic pain. 

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, or know someone who is, let’s see if massage therapy would be a good addition to your current treatment plan.

Book here

PTSD and massage

Life is such a peculiar thing. We experience moments of joy, beauty, happiness, strength, sadness, pain, and fear just to name a few. We never know when our lives can change whether it be for the better or for the worse. Within that there are people who have survived some of the most traumatizing situations, some on a literal battlefield some on a very different kind of battlefield. Years ago, PTSD wasn’t recognized or really understood. People went about their days putting on a brave face while dealing with something internally on their own, because that is what they were taught to do. Showing that you were struggling was considered a sign of weakness. What we didn’t know then was that being open and honest about your struggles is the complete opposite. Being able to open up to another about an experience that you have went through, that caused you harm, pain, or fear is one of the hardest things a person can do. Opening yourself up to show your vulnerabilities and fears takes a lot of guts and shouldn’t be looked upon lightly. According to the National Center for PTSD, 7.7 million people in the United States alone suffer from PTSD, and that is just the cases that are reported. PTSD can impact one’s life causing them anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts. It’s almost like being in a jail where the worst moments of your life continue to be replayed repeatedly and you have no control over the television.  

There have been many recent studies that show how massage therapy can help those diagnosed with PTSD tremendously. The stress relieving factors involved with massage therapy can help to decrease anxiety and depression as well as helping to improve personal mood and decrease irritability. Another benefit of massage therapy when helping to treat PTSD is the reduction in physical pain, and tension. Many of those dealing with PTSD who report dissociation may experience a better sense of self. It is still very early in the studying stage due to the small sample groups involved which make it difficult to foresee the impact on a larger scale, but results so far are very promising. 

The process in which the massage therapist handles their session sometimes has the most powerful impact on one dealing with PTSD. The massage therapist not only asks consent for the therapy session but also goes into detail with their client about the specific wants and needs of the client, giving the client a deeper self-awareness and sense of control over their body than they may have had in a while. This is the part where communication is key to ensure a positive session for both the massage therapist as well as the client dealing with PTSD.  

While these benefits are wonderful, it is always important to talk to your health provider before seeking treatment. If you, or anyone you know is dealing with symptoms of PTSD it is always best to seek help. You aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t go through this alone.

Staying hydrated through the summer heat

Whether you love the summer sun or you hibernate through until cooler temperatures are here, we all know the importance of staying hydrated in the summer heat to keep our bodies healthy and functioning. This is especially important if you have a job or hobby that puts you up close and personal with the heat on a day to day basis.

Let’s face it, it’s difficult to get in the daily recommended amount of water. Water isn’t all that tasty, especially when we have other beverages such as coffee, energy drinks, milk, fruit juices, and sports drinks that have so much more flavor. So here are a few tips on how to get that extra water in when your body desperately needs it.

First, let’s look at how much water your body needs on a daily basis and what factors cause this amount to vary depending on your lifestyle. When it comes to how much water you need, there are so many different opinions. Some say eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Many experts go by a formula to calculate how much you need according to your weight, physical activity, and temperature of your environment. The quickest way to gauge how much water you need is also the easiest. The color of your urine tells you anything you need to know about your water intake. Your urine should be a light straw color. If your urine is dark yellow, your body needs more hydration. If your urine is clear, then you may be drinking a little too much water, and probably need to ease off so as to not cause an imbalance in your electrolyte levels. Yes, you read that right, there is such a thing as drinking too much water.

Here’s a few tips to make sure you’re getting the water intake your body needs.

  • When you wake up, before doing anything else, drink a glass of water. You’re at least slightly dehydrated in the mornings (more so depending on how you spent the evening before) so getting that water in first thing helps replenish and start your day on the right foot.

  • Have water-based foods throughout your day. Soups (broth, not cream based) as well as fresh fruits and vegetables are all great, easy ways to add extra water into your day without feeling like you’re tied to a water bottle.

  • Drink at least half a glass of water before every meal. This helps to keep your water intake consistent and fights off any signals of hunger that are actually a sign of thirst. This also cuts down on how much you’ll eat in one sitting, which, if we’re honest, can’t we all use a little help with portion control sometimes.

  • Drink a glass of water before bed. This helps you to rest better since you won’t be waking up in the middle of the night looking for a drink, and it also decreases the dehydration you’ll experience in the morning. 

Most importantly, listen to your body. When your body sends thirst signals to your brain, it usually means that your body is already dehydrated, listen to it, and give it what it wants.


Cupping- What on earth?!

Cupping is a traditional Chinese therapy that’s been used for thousands of years, but it gained even more popularity in 2016 when everyone noticed that Michael Phelps had large perfectly round discolorations on his back while competing in the Olympics. Many people before that had never heard, or never been exposed to this type of bodywork. During a cupping session, the therapist may use cups made of glass, silicone, or plastic. The vacuum pressure is created with either a manual pump, electronic pump, or even fire. Every therapist is different in how they approach cupping and will adjust treatment to the needs of their client. Some prefer stationary cupping which means leaving each cup in place for several minutes. Others prefer to keep the cups moving to get a broader effect and reduce the likelihood of marks being left on the skin. And still others prefer a combination of both stationary and moving cupping. 

Cupping can be used to decrease swelling by stimulating lymphatic flow and increasing superficial blood circulation. It creates negative pressure instead of positive pressure; so instead of pushing into those tight tissues in an attempt to separate and realign fibers, those tissues are being pulled apart. This offers a far less intense feeling of pressure and discomfort than a typical “deep” massage, but with similar effects. There are also many health claims in the world of cupping that say cupping can help get rid of cellulite, cleanse your body of toxins, help with fertility, and even help with wrinkles when used on the face. It is hard to confirm these claims as there hasn’t been much reliable research on the subject. Cupping is also difficult to run an experiment on, because it would be difficult to have a true control group. This would help to see the effects on those who have received treatment versus those who think they have received the treatment. When something has gained such popularity it’s hard to get down to the root of what it really does or can achieve.  

Now that we’ve gotten the history of cupping and the claims made, let’s get down to why you should try it. Cupping is great for several reasons: 

  • It gets the blood flowing. 

  • It can help target a specific area of need. 

  • Those who struggle with the pressure of a normal massage may like the alternative of cupping because although it’s still pressure, it’s felt in a different way.  

  • Countless individuals (including me!) swear to the benefits of this therapy because we’ve seen the results over and over in ourselves and others. 

Whether you are wanting to try cupping for the health benefits you feel it will bring you, or because you just want to see what all the hype is about, let’s talk about your goals and what you’re comfortable with when you book your next session. You may be pleasantly surprised with how much you enjoy it!

Frozen shoulder what it is and how massage can help!

Frozen shoulder, also called Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition characterized by thick bands of tissue (adhesions) forming around the shoulder joint. This can result in severe stiffness, loss of range of motion, and pain in the joint.

The most noticeable effect is the inability to move the shoulder, either on your own or with assistance. This isn’t just a pain in the shoulder that makes you hesitate or resist movement, but an actual inability to move the joint. About 2%-3% of the population experiences frozen shoulder at some point, with most being between the age of 40 and 60. While the cause of frozen shoulder is not quite understood, we do know that it often accompanies other conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s Disease. An injury to the shoulder and subsequent immobility can also put you at an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder. This is one reason, after a shoulder injury or surgery, passive and active range of motion exercises are recommended as part of rehabilitation.

There are typically 3 stages to frozen shoulder.

FREEZING

This is the early stage, typically characterized by an increase in pain and stiffness over a period of several weeks to months. As the pain increases, range of motion decreases.

FROZEN

This stage generally lasts somewhere around 6 months, and while the pain typically decreases, the stiffness and loss of range of motion only worsens. Even the most routine daily activities, like brushing your hair or reaching into a cabinet can be extremely difficult, if not impossible with the affected shoulder.

THAWING

Frozen shoulder doesn’t last permanently. Most people who experience frozen shoulder have a seemingly spontaneous recovery.The thawing stage is the slow progression back to normal range of motion and strength. It can last from 6 months to 2 years.

How can massage therapy help?

Along with the treatments, stretches, and exercises your doctor and physical therapist recommend, your massage therapist can apply a variety of techniques to help speed up your recovery. With manual massage and specific passive and active movements, we can break down those adhesions and help the “thawing” process.

Also, there’s something often referred to as pseudo-frozen shoulder. What this is, is an unconscious muscle guarding that mimics true frozen shoulder. There may be an underlying condition or injury within the shoulder that, instead of adhesions limiting your range, your nervous system reacts to movement in a protective manner, tightening the muscles around the shoulder to limit range of motion, even without you realizing it’s happening. Some studies suggest that even if you are experiencing true frozen shoulder, much of the loss of mobility may be attributed to muscle guarding instead of solely the fault of the adhesions. Part of your massage sessions will include guidance and relaxation techniques to retrain your nervous system to calm and allow the shoulder to move as much as possible.

So before you just suffer through with a frozen shoulder, book an appointment for a massage and see the difference it makes.


4 common causes of muscle cramps and how to stop them

At some point in your life you’ve probably had muscle cramps; when a muscle that normally only does what you tell it to do, suddenly gets a mind of its own and decides to contract, even when you tell it to calm down. They can hit during a workout or just when you move a certain way, or they may even wake you up in the middle of the night.

Muscle cramps are very common, and while usually harmless, they can be extremely painful, and can signal that something else is wrong within your body. While cramping an occur in any muscle, the lower legs and feet tend to be the most common.

So if you’re suffering with muscle cramps, check out these 4 common causes and how to remedy the situation.

MINERAL IMBALANCES

Our bodies require a very delicate balance of minerals to be kept. As we sweat and our bodies continue basic functions, this delicate balance can be thrown off if we’re not regularly replenishing those minerals. And while potassium is often the most vilified when it comes to muscle cramps, sodium, calcium, and magnesium also play an important role. Many people assume that if they’re having muscle cramps it means they’re deficient in one or more of these minerals, but too much may also result in cramping. Each plays an important role in muscle function and too much or too little of any of them can disrupt normal function, resulting in those irritating cramps.

You may need to change your diet, or increase or decrease your supplements. It’s important to speak with your doctor about what changes you can make to get your body back into balance.

DEHYDRATION

Along with that delicate mineral balance, hydration is just as important. In order for those minute, yet oh-so-important, cellular functions to happen correctly, cells need to be hydrated; keeping the proper balance of water and minerals. Muscle cramps are especially common in athletes and physical laborers, particularly in extreme heat conditions when our bodies require much more water. So if you’re experiencing regular cramping, increasing your water intake may be a simple solution.

OVERUSE

For many athletes, weekend warriors, or just exercise enthusiasts, overusing any muscle can be a big cause of muscle cramping. Whether this is chronic overuse or a sudden change in intensity of your exercise routine, the nervous system is usually to blame here. When you’re really pushing yourself during a workout, your nerves can become overexcited and it can be difficult to calm them down. This is just another reason to take the time after every workout to cool down, stretch, and let, not only your muscles, but your nervous system calm back down into a resting state. But if those deep cool downs aren’t cutting it, you may want to try backing off your workouts and see if your body adjusts. And if you still want to increase your intensity, just do it slowly.

LACK OF MOVEMENT

On the opposite end of the spectrum, too little movement can be just as detrimental and result in muscle cramps. Again, your nervous system is probably to blame here and it’s simply a malfunction of the nerves. A little stimulation to them can often solve this problem. If your job keeps you sitting all the time, try taking a 5-10 minute break every hour and just walk around the office.

If you notice here, it’s all about balance. Your body requires a delicate balance to be kept of water and minerals, movement and rest. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, what changes can you make to get your body back into balance?

Organization Of The Month: Compass Ministries

Each month, Simply Earth partners with an organization that is combating human trafficking. This month, we are partnering with Compass Ministries’ Executive Director Jeanette Johnson. Jen is passionate about helping young women, children and adolescents.

Who are they? 

Compass Ministries has several different ways of reaching the women and the young women in their area. Compass Ministries does online outreach by sending text messages and inviting to meet, chat, and form friendships with females who may be in vulnerable situations. They also do strip club outreach, pen pal ministry ,and jail ministry.

Compass is building relationships with women and juveniles at jails in their area. Jen is passionate about the youth and she says that there are some specific identifiers for those who may be more at risk for trafficking situations. Before Jen started going to these centers, she had assumed she’d be teaching these young women about the signs of trafficking; she was surprised to discovered that she was the one who was being taught, she was surprised at how much the youth had already learned from their experiences.

What do they do? 

When I asked Jen what a normal day looks like for her, she said she has no normal days. Her calendar is crazy; her calendar consists of different meetings, training volunteers, visits to the juvenile center, and much more. She makes it her goal to always up to date with what’s happening in the trafficking industry, including facts and statistics.

Currently, Compass Ministries is raising funds for their safehouse. They want to add 12 more beds to the 18 they already have.

What is Jen most passionate about? 

Jen is very passionate about helping women; she loves them and is going the extra mile to help them. Jen says the hardest part of working with women is hearing about their pain, especially with the young women in the juvenile detention center.

How can we get involved?

You can visit the Compass Ministries website and you’ll find a big list of how you can help. They are asking for prayers and if possible, volunteers. They also need donations (clothing, accessories, etc) to sell in their boutique to help women get back on their feet if they have been in a trafficking situation. You can also share monetary donations with them through their website. And as always, another option is by buying products from Simply Earth; this month 13% of our profits will be going to them.

Massage and diabetes

Did you know that diabetes affects almost 10% of the population? It’s a frustrating condition for many people that can completely alter their day-to-day activities. Every bite of food and any physical activity has to be taken into account. 

For a general overview, diabetes affects insulin in the body. Insulin is what regulates blood sugar levels so our cells function properly. There are two primary forms, simply called Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in childhood as the result of the body’s inability to produce insulin. These patients require supplemental insulin. Type 2 on the other hand, can develop at any age and is the result of the body not effectively using insulin. They don’t require supplemental insulin, but rather can control their blood sugar levels with proper diet and exercise. However, if not controlled, Type 2 can turn into Type 1. There are also many complications that are associated with diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve damage, and depression to name a few.  

While Diabetes can restrict a lot in life, getting a massage shouldn’t be one of those things. Generally speaking, it is perfectly safe to receive a massage as a diabetic. However, open communication is essential! It’s not only important to tell your massage therapist that you are diabetic, but also about how it’s being managed, and what your recent health is like. It’s also important to note that massage can alter your blood glucose level considerably, and it may take a few sessions to get a clear idea of how your body responds to the massage. This will help you moving forward with regular sessions, so you know when you should eat or take your insulin in relation to when you receive your massage. 

If you’re dealing with diabetic neuropathy (damage to the small nerves of the hands and feet), you’ll want to be really clear with your massage therapist about exactly what your current symptoms are, as this varies from person to person. You’ll also want to keep communicating during the session so your therapist can adjust the pressure and techniques accordingly. 

Massage therapy can do wonders to help with some of the symptoms and side effects of diabetes. Whether you’re dealing with neuropathy, circulation issues, depression, or just want to relax, massage may help. Just make sure you keep an open line of communication with your therapist and keep them updated with any changes that happen along the way. This will not only keep you safe, but it will make your experience as enjoyable as possible. 


The what and why of prenatal massage

Pregnancy can be difficult, physically and emotionally, even in the healthiest of pregnancies. This is a time when a woman’s body is undergoing an enormous amount of stress and change, and a time when self-care is of utmost importance. So why should you get regular massage therapy throughout your pregnancy?

Here’s some of the biggest benefits of prenatal massage:

  • Decreases anxiety and symptoms of depression

  • Relieves low back pain

  • Decreases restless leg symptoms

  • Improves sleep

  • Relieves minor swelling

  • Helps to relax and open the chest, allowing for deep breathing

  • Relieves round ligament pain

  • Loosens tight, aching hips

  • Decrease in Sciatica symptoms

  • Reduced headaches

  • Decrease of SI joint pain

While prenatal massage is considered safe through all stages or pregnancy, and for most women during a low risk pregnancy, as with any addition to prenatal care, it’s best to consult with your physician about adding massage into your routine. Some high-risk factors may make massage and other bodywork contraindicated (not advised).

What should you expect during a prenatal massage?

During the first trimester, not much will change in the logistics of your massage appointment. However, once you enter into the second trimester, your positioning will need to be changed. When lying on your back, you’ll having bolstering and pillows under your neck and back to keep you semi-reclined, as well as any bolstering to support your legs and arms if needed. Instead of lying face down, you’ll be able to lie on your side, with bolsters to help support you and keep you comfortable. This side-lying position is not only safe and comfortable, but allows for great access for the therapist to address those painful and tight hips and low back.

Massage therapy can also play a large role in helping you throughout labor. Not only does massage help to manage pain and decrease the need for pain medications, but it also decreases stress hormones which counteract the oxytocin your body produces to progress labor. The more you can decrease those stress hormones, and try to relax during labor, the quicker and easier your body will go through the process.

Once your beautiful bundle arrives, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop taking care of you. Most new moms have their hands full taking care of their new baby, recovering from delivery, and adjusting to a completely new normal. With the stresses and hormonal changes happening right after your baby arrives, you’re going to need some physical and emotional relief. Postpartum massage may very well be the answer. Your body has gone through something tremendous, and needs to find relief for those tired, aching muscles in those precious days, weeks, and months after delivery.

Pregnancy is a beautiful, stressful, amazing, and painful time of life. With all the ups and downs, highs and lows, your self care routine has to come first. Make massage therapy a regular part of that.

Post workout massage

While many people think of massage as just a feel-good sort of luxury, there are actually numerous health benefits, one of the many being post-workout recovery. Massage therapy has long been used as a recovery method for athletes, but there was little science to support it. While many athletes have known for years that massage can help to reduce soreness after an intense workout, science is suggesting there’s much more to it than just making us feel better.

Over the last several years, as more studies have been done in the field of massage, the reasons are becoming more and more clear.

Muscle damage from exercise isn’t just relayed to us through pain, but also through subtle clues that may be hard to detect for many people. Through certain testing, researchers were looking to see when an athlete’s muscles were truly ready to return to activity, and how massage affected that. So, in a 2015 study¹ they wanted to see if massage could increase post-workout strength and body awareness (proprioception). To do this they focused their testing on the gastrocnemius (the large muscle of the calf). Each participant ran up and down a 5 story building twenty times. Following this, half the subjects received a 15-minute massage to the lower legs and the other half did not. What they found was that the subjects who received massage had more strength and improved proprioception and muscular architecture. While massage isn’t going to replace lifting weights, the return of strength and the expression of strength and technique is increased when massage is applied directly following an intense workout; all of this to say, that means you’ll not only feel better quicker, but you can also get back into the action much sooner.

Another study² gives a bit more explanation to this as they discovered that massage decreased the activity of a protein called NF-kB, which causes exercise-related inflammation, and increased the activity of a protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs the production of new mitochondria. What does all that mean? Basically, that on a cellular level, massage is decreasing inflammation and increasing cellular repair after exercise. Again, suggesting that massage doesn’t just make you feel better after a workout, but truly helps your body repair itself much faster.

Notice that none of this had to do with lactic acid! In fact, these and other studies have shown that massage does not “flush out” lactic acid at all; a misguided reason often given for post-workout massage. Instead, the reason you feel better is because massage is causing structural and cellular changes to the muscles, speeding recovery and rehabilitation.

So, if you love to push yourself at the gym, be sure a schedule your next massage right after to get the most benefit!

References:¹ Effects of Massage on Muscular Strength and Proprioception After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Shin, Mal-Soon; Sung, Yun-Hee. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2015/08000/Effects_of_Massage_on_Muscular_Strength_and.22.aspx

² Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Justin D. Crane, Daniel I. Ogborn, Colleen Cupido, Simon Melov, Alan Hubbard, Jacqueline M. Bourgeois, and Mark A. Tarnopolsky. http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/4/119/119ra13

Thai massage

If you’ve been looking for something different from the typical massage experience, Thai massage may be perfect for you. It’s unlike most traditional western forms of massage but just as relaxing and beneficial, if not more so.

So what makes it so different?

Unlike common modalities of massage like Swedish and Deep Tissue, Thai massage doesn’t require you to undress and climb under linens on a massage table. In fact, Thai is usually performed fully clothed on a mat on the floor, but the techniques can be altered to work on a table if you prefer. There also isn’t any use of oils or lotions since it doesn’t include any of the kneading or gliding of a Swedish or Deep Tissue massage. Instead, Thai massage mostly employs stretching, rocking, pulling, and compression.

What Does It Feel Like?

Some people refer to it as a passive form of yoga, and some practitioners prefer to call the practice ‘Thai Yoga Massage’ since you’ll be stretched and placed into all sorts of positions to stretch muscles you didn’t even know needed stretched. Instead of just using my hands and forearms, I’ll also incorporate the use of my knees and feet to move you through a series of motions and stretches similar to a yoga sequence.

While traditional Thai massage, as performed in Thailand, can be somewhat rough and abrupt in application, westernized versions have been modified to be much more gentle so you shouldn’t feel pain at any point in your session. Just like with any other massage modality, be sure to speak up if the pressure needs to be adjusted for your comfort level.

What Are The Benefits?

Just like with most other forms of massage, Thai massage can increase lymphatic flow, improve sleep, decrease pain, and improve range of motion and flexibility. However, what separates Thai massage from other modalities is that this passive range of motion is extremely beneficial for those suffering from arthritis and other conditions that may leave the joints painful and stiff. 

What To Expect?

  • Sessions can range from 1-2 hours depending on your needs. 

  • Arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to fill out paperwork and discuss your medical history to make sure Thai massage is right for you.

  • Because this modality is performed fully clothed, be sure to wear something loose and comfortable, similar to what you would normally exercise in.

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before. A light meal or snack is ok, but remember you’ll be stretched in many ways, often putting some pressure on your stomach.

  • Remember to speak up if you ever feel uncomfortable or experience pain.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you ever experience pain, tingling, or numbness in your hand and fingers, specifically the thumb, index, and middle fingers, then you may want to get checked for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. CTS is a fairly common problem resulting from pressure on the median nerve by the transverse carpal ligament, a broad band of tissue that wraps around the wrist. This compression is most often the result of repetitive movements of the wrist and fingers such as typing, assembly line work, sewing, etc. It also seems to show up alongside other conditions such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and is even a common side effect of pregnancy. 

While we most often associate this pain, tingling, or numbness in the wrist and hand as an obvious sign of compression of the median nerve in the wrist, i.e. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s important to also rule out other possible causes, including nerve compression at the neck, shoulder, or upper arm. You see, this median nerve is a branch of a much larger nerve coming from the spinal cord. So, while passing around and through the numerous structures on the way to the fingers, it can become compressed at any point, resulting in the same symptoms as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is why it’s so important to get a proper diagnosis so the real cause of the symptoms can be treated effectively. 

Once CTS has been diagnosed, there are a number of movement and position modifications that can help take pressure off the nerve and ease your symptoms. 

  • Use a splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position 

  • Use a support under the wrist when typing or using a mouse to keep the wrist neutral 

  • Don’t overextend or flex the wrist frequently 

  • Rearrange your space if needed to decrease the need for wrist flexion or extension 

  • Loosen your grip when grasping items 

  • Take frequent breaks throughout any task using the hand and wrist to stretch and move in different directions 

Swelling is a big culprit in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The pressure on the nerve creates inflammation, resulting in swelling that only adds to that pressure. Because of this, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, or even steroid shots in severe cases, to reduce the swelling. Oftentimes, just getting the swelling under control can take enough pressure off the nerve to let the healing process take place and ease the symptoms greatly. If these modifications and medications aren’t quite doing the trick, the next step is often a recommendation for physical therapy to begin a regimen of exercises and stretches that can help. If this still doesn’t resolve the issue, the next step is often surgery. This can be done with an open incision or endoscopically, but either way, the most common surgical procedure involves cutting that transverse carpal ligament to allow more room for the median nerve to pass through without pressure. 

While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a fairly common condition, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer with it. Use these tips to ease any current discomfort and hopefully prevent any more! 

Massage like you've never felt it - article from Ladaily post!

Massage like you've never felt it - article from Ladaily post!

Bundy opened Windgate Healing Arts at 2101 Suite T Trinity Dr., about two months ago. Located near the Los Alamos Public Schools Administration Building, Windgate presents a calm, beautiful atmosphere.

A massage therapist for 20 years, Bundy was drawn to the sacred therapies that many cultures have used to treat the mind as well as the body.

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Sports Massage

Sports massage is a form of bodywork widely used to help athletes obtain maximum performance and conditioning by increasing endurance,mobility and aiding in recovery.  It is particularly beneficial when an athlete is in training for an event. It’s also helpful for anyone who routinely stretches physical limits through movement. Competing athletes, strength trainers, musicians, and weekend warriors  have all benefited from sports massage Athletes experience not only body fatigue and muscle soreness but also mental and emotional stress. Massage can help restore vitality, balance, and energy, as well as easing emotional stress.  More than just a reward at the end of a workout. It is a vital tool for keeping athletes primed for top performance and even lengthening their careers. During the massage the therapist will customise your treatment focus on muscles used in your sport or fitness activity. For example, areas of greater stress for runners and cyclists are the legs and lower back; for swimmers, the upper body. Sports massage should be a regular part of every athlete’s training program and is commonly used pre event and intercompetition (between events) as well as post event. Post event sports massage focuses on recovery after a competition involving not only the normalization and repair of tissue, but also general relaxation and mental calming.  Helping athletes to regain their pre-event condition by relaxing tight, muscles, as well as easing post event soreness and fatigue. Recognized as an important part of a regular maintenance program, sports massage is widely used by individuals, teams,and Olympic and professional athletes.

Should deep tissue massage hurt?

Have you been wondering if a massage has to hurt to be effective?  If so, you are not alone. Many people believe that a massage has to hurt in order to be effective. Well it doesn’t! You’ll be happy to hear that the saying, “No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to massage therapy. More often, the most effective forms of bodywork are the ones that don’t cause any pain but soothes the nervous system. Something that feels marvelous, and it’s good for you too? It doesn’t get much better than that!

 Deep tissue massage has a bad reputation for being painful but if done skillfully and with an attentive therapist that is not the case. There should be minimal discomfort as your therapist manipulates the deeper layers of your soft tissue. Soft tissue includes your muscles, ligaments, fascia (it’s pretty much everything that isn’t bones or organs). Usually the work will be lighter at first, this is important, it helps relax and soften the top layer of tissue and muscle, then slowly the deeper layers of muscle can be accessed.  This will feel much better and you will get better results!

   Pain and discomfort are two different things. Muscles naturally react to any sort of pain. When your muscles feel that your body is about to be injured the reflex is to deflect the pain,  your nervous system kicks in and muscles tighten, and that is not a great way to relax. It’s hard (nearly impossible) to relax if you are in pain, and muscle tension will only release in a state of relaxation.  Discomfort is described as “the good pain” it feels intense, but you are accepting it not deflecting. No holding your breath or clenching teeth here.

Deep tissue massage is not for everyone! You are not a wimp if you don’t like it. It is one of the more involved and intense massage techniques. Some people simply like the feeling of more pressure, and a firm massage isn’t always deep tissue. Just be sure to communicate with your therapist about what you prefer and need.

If you are booking your first massage, you probably don’t want to start out with a deep tissue session. Ease your way into massage therapy and start with something less specific, like therapeutic or integrative massage. Nateley is our deep tissue specialist at Windgate Healing Arts, and can help you determine if deep tissue therapy is a good fit for your needs

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Here are a few of my favorite things...

Here are a few of my favorite things...

Now that the winter season is officially here, it’s time to stock up on those things that keep us well and protect against the maladies of transitional times, like season changes. I like to make sure I have my favorite 2 essential oil blends on hand. Defender and Breathe Easy.

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What Kind of Massage Should YOU Get?

What Kind of Massage Should YOU Get?

Types of Massage Sometimes it can be confusing – you know you’re stressed and everybody tells you that you need a good massage, but what type of massage should you get? There are so many options available at Windgate healing arts, how do you know which one will suit you?

That’s where your friendly massage therapist comes in –

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Try a go on one of our Chi machines!

If you’ve never tried a session on a chi machine, I’m not sure I can explain just how it makes you feel, but amazing comes to mind!  A passive aerobic experience with a myriad of benefits, the chi machine gently cradles your ankles and swings to and fro while you relax, lying on your back. This creates a side to side movement that travels up from your feet to your head. The results of this gentle wave like motion are felt in as little as 10-15 minutes. Loosening tight back muscles, alleviating constipation and menstrual pain, and stimulating metabolism are just a few of the reported benefits. In my practice I use it mostly to increase the lymphatic circulation as part of a protocol to reduce swelling in the legs and ankles. Great for pregnant mamas, and those with swelling issues. Also used in tandem with garshanna and far infrared sauna to encourage a detoxification. It can also be added to the end of any session.  Although incredible effective it is also quite fun! As one of the the main benefits is increased energy and oxygenation to cells, when your session is over you are flooded with the sensation of this new influx, which feels quite like your whole body is made of stardust.