We have already spoken about relaxation, being one of the massage benefits. Another often expressed benefit expressed by clients is that they SLEEP BETTER.
It has been well established that if you do not have a good night’s uninterrupted sleep or do not sleep enough for longer periods of time it may have quite dramatic effects on your mental, emotional and physical health. Healthy sleep allows the body and mind to finish processing what has gone on under the day and also helps with healing on a cellular level.
It is well documented that professional massage has an effect on the body and helps it to fall asleep faster and also allows you to sleep longer. How can this be possible? Well the massage creates a deep relaxation and boosts the serotonin levels. This has a positive effect on your mind and puts you in a more relaxed and calm state and releases melatonin. As the massage induces you into another relaxed state, and helps you distance yourself from your worries or pain that you are used to feeling, sleep may come quicker.
If you are interested in this benefit, come in for a professional massage.
What really happens to your body when you get a massage?
In today’s society we experience a lot of moments that put stress in our lives and have an impact on our wellbeing - which may involve sleep problems, fatigue, anxiety, stress and irritability amongst some. Stress is an inevitable part of life.
Today we all know the different effects that stress may have on our body and that massage can help to improve this state, but what is it that makes massage such an effective stress reliever and what really goes on in the body to have such positive effects. This week we will set out here on Instagram some explanations to how the body is impacted by massage.
One of the first thing that massage springs to mind is RELAXATION
The flow of rhythmic, sweeping movements that are used in massage that may also include light strokes and kneading have as a benefit that the body and mind is brought into a more relaxed state. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated and this is where the nervous system allows your body to relax and produce endorphins, those hormones that put you in a feel-good state and also reduce the production of cortisol (stress hormone). The relaxed state increases the levels of serotonin (chemical that positively affects emotions and thoughts) as the heart and breathing rate slow down, the blood pressure decreases and muscles relax. When your cortisol is decreased and serotonin increased, the body is more able to deal with pain, anxiety and sleep problems. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and wellbeing.
If you are interested in this benefit, come in for a professional massage.
Massages for Runners and when to get them
For all runners, whatever your level whatever your goals massage is an essential component of every runners conditioning and recovery routine. Massage has long been a part of a runner’s training program. You’ve no doubt heard many of the benefits of massage as improved circulation and less muscle soreness but that is not all.
Of course there are many different massages, but what would be the most effective for runners. Well, it depends. Several factors come into play, your body, the goals you have set for yourself, your routines and your preference.
Here is a short explanation of some of the options
This kind really works into the soft tissue, targeting a specific area in order to either prevent injury or improve for it to be effective for runners. It will also help for your overall physical function, flexibility and performance and may help in reducing the event of injury. This is not only beneficial for athletes but also for those that have a physically demanding jobs.
When to get it: It can be used in various ways either before or after an event but also when a specific issue needs to be addressed, with a spot treatment or as regular maintenance. If it is the calf that needs to be treated, this will be the only spot the practitioner will focus on. So, it is in this sense different from a Californian Massage as set out below.
Deep Tissue MassageA deep tissue massage can be just as intensive as a sports massage, and also works specific tight spots and not only in the deep muscle but also on the superficial layers of fascia. This technique more broadly addresses superficial tissue, muscles, and fascia, but with sufficient pressure to mend stiff muscles and address tight knots that can disrupt circulation, cause inflammation, and limit range of motion.
When to get it: This would be recommended especially during periods of hard training as it focuses on an entire muscle and not only a specific trouble area. It’s nice to have especially, when you are training hard and not suffering from any injury. As this is heavily intense it should not be practiced days before or after a running event and in general a monthly treatment would be enough.
This is a Massage which is gentler and more focuses on the overall wellbeing and reducing stress levels. Its aim is to create relaxation and wellbeing. This technique sculptures and envelopes the body. The relaxing effect is felt through the flow of rhythmic movements, light strokes, kneading and stretches, followed by long graceful movements which harmonise and strengthen the body and the mind.
When to get it: Californian massage is one of the best massages to get on a regular basis. It is intensive enough to manage your ongoing recovery needs, but won’t add further muscle strain. It can be employed in the days before an event or as a recovery a couple of days after the event.
If you are a regular runner (or regularly do any other physical sport), a good routine is to go for biweekly or monthly massages which will support your ability to perform, recover, and ward off injury.
It is interesting to see today how even major corporate businesses are now acknowledging the importance of sleep and how this also leads to better productivity. At the insurance company Aetna, (50 000 employees), employees that sleep for 20 nights for seven hours or more are given $25 a night, up $500 a year. Their wellness program also includes, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Here you can read or listen to more about this initiative: Paid to Sleep
The best way to get a good night’s sleep
There are of course several tips on how to get the best night sleep and it may vary depending on your specific condition. The ancient Vedic practice, Ayurveda, that was initiated more than 5000 years ago in India has become very popular today within the wellness industry. There are many facets to this Vedic practice, where it would be advised to include mindfulness in life, a well-balanced food regime with various kinds of healing herbs, and Ayurveda massage for healthy sleep. Moreover, this practice emphasis the importance of taking things easy, slowing down the pace, and giving ourselves some tender loving care regularly.
In general, we often hear today that it is very important to get a good night’s sleep, at least 8 hours uninterrupted sleep per night, although this may vary for individuals. The amount and quality of the sleep you get really has an impact on your emotional and physical health. Healthy sleeping allows the body and the mind to finish processing what has gone on during the day and also assists with the healing on a cellular level. It is of outmost importance to not neglect your sleep.
If your sleep patterns are not ideal, there are ways to improve those but you need to plan ahead. Here are a couple of suggestions of how to improve your sleep patterns.
1. Daily exercise
This does not have to be a high impact exercise but all kinds of exercise are known to have positive effects on sleep. However, intensive exercise should be avoided very close to your bedtime as it may increase your adrenaline levels and thereby make it difficult to sleep.
2. Eating habits before going to bed
Have an early light meal, at least two hours before you are going to bed, and ideally without any alcoholic beverages or beverages with caffeine. You may have a nice warm cup of organic tea before you go to bed. Choose a blend that is calming and puts you in the right mood for bedtime.
3. Turn off laptops, cellular phones and other electronic devices
This is not anything new. Several studies show the effect of too much stimulation before bed having a negative effect on your sleep and especially the blue light that is emitted from the screens. Preparing for bedtime should really be a slowing down process, where your body has already started to unwind and is therefore more receptive to falling asleep. A relaxing bedtime routine allows you to separate sleep time from stress, excitement, anxiety which may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Reading a book could be part of a good bedtime routine.
4. Bed Time
Try to put in place good bedtime habits. It is said that the best time to sleep is by 10 pm. The deepest and most regenerative sleep is between 10 pm and 2 am. Afterwards, the sleep is more superficial. If you are not used to this try going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual for a couple of nights, and then do it again and over again until you hit the magic hour for your bedtime.
5. Once in Bed
Make sure that the room is cool, around 18 degrees. Keep the room dark and free from any noise that may be disturbing. Make sure that you are comfortable. This may for example be having a warm cosy pair of socks on, or a pillow between your legs and knees to ease any pressure off the hips. You know what gets you comfortable. Do not neglect the quality of your mattress, which does definitely also have an effect on your sleep.
“Getting a good night’s sleep is an effortless technique to create longevity and health. Deep rest during the night helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high. Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market – it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest.”
Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D.
You may wonder why your forearms and hands need massage.
Well, it is not always things that we think about but the hands and forearms are constantly used.
Gripping a steering wheel. Working a trackpad or mouse. Hovering over keyboards. Garden work. And ovens. And laundry. You get it. These parts of our body are equally exposed to a great deal of stress daily, by writing by hand or using the keyboard, grabbing things, carrying groceries, making beds and you name it. And often when these parts are massaged reactions are that “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 good news that it is not difficult to massage arms and forearms by yourself.
Here is what you can do.
You use your opposite arm, and squeeze the soft areas under your elbow. Your thumb can work in a half circle. Start on the inside of the elbow and work towards the outside where the tissue is soft. The movements should be gentle and you should not squeeze hard and feel any pain. If it hurts you are pressing too hard. Work this up and down the forearms a couple of times. Then you can add rolling the wrist and wiggling the fingers around at the same time as you squeeze. Do this a few times, up and down the forearm.
Next movement will cover the hand. Your grip should be a bit softer. You will know what is right for you. Squeeze the inner part of the hand which is a bit meaty and you can repeat circular movements a couple of times and then move up and down the fingers with a light squeeze. Then, switch hands and do it again on the other arm and hand! It is not more complicated than that and no specialised materials are needed. But what you could always do is excange with a friend, and massage each other’s arms and hands.
After relaxing holidays, and having some time off from the normal every day chores, it might be a good idea to decide on continuing as much as possible in that relaxed mood that makes you feel so good and happy. Once we go back to work, kids go back to school and start with their after-school activities, deadlines, appointments, meetings, housework, sports, and other chores kick in, you may feel overwhelmed as so much is going on at one time. That is why it is good to plan ahead and think about taking care of ourselves and not let the stress take over.
Meditation helps you to stay grounded, and can help you to keep stressful situations at bay. Just being able to take a short time for yourself, creating a moment of stillness in your mind is a powerful way to become more relaxed. If you only have five minutes, take those five minutes to meditate, which can improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.
Something so easy to do, which is essential to life, but which we do not always think about actively. It just happens naturally, and we may not give it so much thought, but maybe we should. Breathing techniques may help with stress and improve your health, as it may lower the heart rate, improve blood circulation and promote clearer thinking.
When you are angry or stressed out it is often difficult to think about anything else than what is currently going on and the situation that has put you in that mode. However, if you take some time off and practice some easy breathing techniques, this can calm you down and reverse the physical symptoms that you are feeling.
There are many techniques which are available for free on the internet. If you only have five minutes, I would suggest you look for “cardiac coherence” on youtube and you should find some easy steps to follow. If you have some more time, here is a simple technique that can be used to put you in a more relaxed state.
· Find an isolated spot, where you will not be disturbed for 15 minutes
· Inhale slowly for the count of 4
· Exhale slowly for the count of 8
· Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
· Repeat until you begin to relax and feel calm
Much like massage, there is no doubt that breathing can encourage relaxation and healthy habits. It keeps the body/mind functioning and curbs stress. Your muscles naturally relax and you can go about your day a little easier.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the time to exercise when you have a tight schedule. But that is the moment when it is the most important to keep at it and not neglect the planned session. It is well known that exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you are not able to make it to your planned training session, do try to squeeze in a short 15 minute walk in the fresh air some time during the day. A little goes a long way when you need it.
Laugh and sing
In this study, it was shown that giggling and music can help to lower the blood pressure. Indeed, it showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing some weight, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication. So, it might be a good idea to listen to music around the house, sing and laugh as much as possible throughout the day.
Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage now to prepare for a busy (and fun) autumn!
Commit to taking care of yourself this autumn! You may be surprised with the results.
At Massage and Relax we use Organic Argan Oil in the oil-based massage sessions. One of our favourite essential oil that is used with the Argan Oil is organic sweet orange, which make wonders for relaxation. However, if you are on any homeopathic treatment, no essential oils will be used as this may limit the efficiency of the homeopathic treatment.
One of the essential points in our practice is to use organic products during the massage sessions. We have a holistic view of how things should be done, and for such a relaxing, soothing moment it would be contraindicative to use toxic products on your body. The benefits of the massages that we specialise in are all aimed at relaxation and Argan Oil is indeed well known to have this effect. It soothes body muscles and improves the blood circulation in the body, as well as improving the elasticity of the skin, moisturising and revitalising the skin. It is also known to slow down tissue and joint damage, which makes it good for use or those who suffer from arthritis.
This oil has its origins in Morocco and has been used for several hundred years for different purposes, such as culinary, medicinal and cosmetic. It contains linoleic and oleic fatty acids, which are known to support good health. It is composed of a healthy dose of vitamin E, and contains both antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties. Often it is referred to as liquid gold.
There are studies that set out that using it on the skin may reduce inflammation and that it is effective in preventing several skin conditions and some illnesses. Research cannot definitively prove this but many people report positive results after using it.
Today it is relatively common to find Argan in cosmetic and skin care products. It has a moisturising effect thanks to the vitamin E which it contains. It may have an impact of repairing and maintaining healthy skin, which diminishes visible signs of the skin aging. It has also been proven to increase the skin elasticity and hydration. Research shows that this can be achieved by using both oral supplements and applying the Argan Oil directly to the skin.
Hair and Skin
Argan Oil contains vital nutrients for keeping your skin and hair healthy. As it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components, in cases of acne due to dry skin or general irritation, this may be the solution to a smoother complexion. It has also been proven to protect the skin from sun damage, helping against burns and hyperpigmentation. It is extremely hydrating for dry skin and may strengthen skin tissues which reduces and prevents wrinkles. For the hair, it can be used as a leave-in conditioner, which is very effective on split ends and tames frizzy hair, as well as protects it against the heat of hair dryers.
Organic Sweet Orange
Sweet Orange is a mixture of pomelo and mandarin and was brought by Portuguese travellers from China to West Africa and then Europe in the 15th century. To start off with, the smell of it is so soothing and enjoyable and puts you in a warm, summerlike feeling. It is a powerful essential oil which works well with the Argan Oil as it also has properties that are effective with acne problems, helps alleviate inflammation and improve skin conditions. It can also alleviate muscle pains cramps and abdominal discomfort. One of the extremely appreciated properties is its power to boost energy levels and improve mood together with other health benefits, as its ability to reduce stress levels and fatigue.
Both Argan Oil and Sweet Orange essential oil have so many positive benefits in helping with pain inflammation, skin conditions, moisturising and so many more benefits that using these in your everyday life can be nothing but beneficial.
Is it ok to eat before having a massage?
Sure! If you are hungry your tummy may be growling and it may be difficult to relax if all you are thinking about is food. So having something light is just fine. However, it is not advised to have a massage after eating a big heavy meal. It would feel uncomfortable to lie down on a full bloated stomach and the massage would delay digestion, which could be uncomfortable. You should also think about not having a massage after drinking an excessive amount of wine or alcohol. This would work against the positive health benefits of a relaxing massage. If you have planned a big lunch with wine and dessert, it is better to plan your massage session for another occasion, as it will have an impact on your experience. A morning session may be the solution, which will leave you in a good relaxed mood for the rest of the day and you can then also enjoy your lunch as you prefer. To benefit to the most, eat and drink reasonably one to two hours before your session.
Do have to undress completely?
No. For a Relaxing Californian Massage or Hot Stone Massage you keep your underwear on. Ladies may undress to their level of comfort, i.e. keep their bra on or take it off. For a head and face massage you may remain completely dressed or take off your top. Some movements are made on your back and neck and it may be easier to reach and massage an area which is not covered. You can also wear a strapless top. Your front will be covered at all times. Feel free to speak to your massage professional about undressing. the decision is yours and you should always feel at ease, which is essential to fully enjoy the massage.
Which parts of the body are massaged during a full body massage?
A full body massage, will include flowing movements connecting lower and upper body, back and front. However, the professional does not come in contact with ANY private parts! And if there are any parts of your body that you do not want to be massaged, you should say. Some people do not feel comfortable with having the abdomen or arms touched and this can then be avoided. It is important that you let your massage professional know of any specific areas to avoid so the treatment can be to your satisfaction. Every person is different and so is every session.
Is it ok to chat during the whole massage session?
Generally, it is difficult to fully relax if you speak during the entire session, so a full conversation should be avoided. However, if anything is uncomfortable or you would like the heating to be adjusted of course you should speak up. You may prefer more or less pressure and this should be communicated as our desire is that the session meets your expectations.
Is it ok to have a massage before going to the gym or out for a run?
Not really if you want to keep and continue to benefit from the relaxed feeling. Of course, the benefits of a massage continue to work on your body but if you immediately afterwards put your body into stress mode, you will lose some of the benefits of the massage, which would be a shame. It would in such case be advisable to plan the massage after a gym session.
Will it hurt?
No! The massage is set to be pleasurable and relaxing. If you have any tight spots the massage professional may insist a bit on these areas but this should not hurt. If you feel any discomfort during the session do not hesitate to speak up. Do also mention if you want more or less pressure, as every person is different, and the massage professional cannot know your preference if you do not say so.
I will come for a massage directly after work, and will not be able to take a shower before. Is this ok?
Many clients come in for a session during their lunch break of after work. Obviously to add to the benefits of a relaxing massage it is ideal if you can have a warm shower before, but the massage professional will not mind if you come directly from work.
Can I still have a full session if I am late for my appointment?
The appointment has been set for a required time and a duration of 50 minutes or 1 hour and 20 minutes. The massage professional is on a schedule and will have a client after you. It will therefore not be possible to extend your time further. Do make an effort to arrive on time as if you are in a rush it may feel more difficult and take more time for you to start enjoying the massage.
How often should I have a massage?
This is very individual and depends on the expectations and benefits you expect to receive. For general wellbeing and maintenance, it is a good idea to have a massage at least once a month for lasting benefits and so you can optimise the health benefits of a relaxing massage. If you are experiencing a stressful situation in life, you may be advised to have a massage more frequently. Discuss your specific situation with the massage professional to have an idea of what would be the most beneficial for you.
When you register for your first appointment you will also complete a form with questions about your health condition and specific requests so the massage professional is informed about you and can adapt the session to your specific needs.
When you arrive for your massage session you will be brought to the massage room. If you have any concerns or areas you would like the massage professional to insist on, do let us know, so your expectations can be fully met. For example, if you are using homeopathic medicine, no essential oils will be used and only an organic vegetable oil.
If you are coming for a Relaxing Californian Massage, it is a whole body massage where you are partly undressed i.e. you keep your underwear on and ladies may undress to their level of comfort by keeping or taking off their bra. You should remove all jewellery and please switch off your phone. Ladies with long hair will be asked to put their hair in a ponytail.
When you undress, the massage professional will leave the room. You will lie down on your stomach on the table. The massage will thereafter start. The massage table is comfortably heated. During a massage, as the body starts to relax you may feel cold. If so, let the massage professional know so the heat can then be adjusted. It generally takes about 10 minutes for you to start relaxing. The full body massage is done with or without essential oils that are quickly absorbed by the body. However, the relaxing effect of the oils continue to work for another 8 hours, so ideally you should not shower directly afterwards. This massage sculpts and envelopes the body. The relaxing effect is felt through the flow of rhythmic movements, light strokes, kneading and stretches, followed by long graceful movements which harmonise and strengthen the body and the mind.
How will you feel afterwards?
You will definitely feel thoroughly relaxed, your muscles will feel looser, like spaghetti strings. Your body will feel smooth and, you will be calm and content. When the massage is over, do not sit up immediately but take some time to “wake up”. Move your legs and arms and wriggle the body a bit. When it feels ok, sit up slowly. Sit on the massage table for a minute or longer before you get off it as the tiredness and relaxation may make you dizzy if you move too quickly. The massage may also improve your sleep, reduce your sense of anxiety and strengthen the immune system.
Some may even feel soreness afterwards, as if doing exercise at the gym. The massage can at times be seen as a passive form of exercise as the muscles have been worked on.
It also sometimes happens that you may have a slight headache afterwards. This is due to the relaxation and successful elimination of toxins. It will not last long. If you have this experience, you should drink a lot of water afterwards.
What to do after a massage session?
It is important to drink a lot of water. It helps to flush out the toxins in the body. The build up of toxins in the body can lead to aches, pains and fatigue. The massage helps by increasing the blood circulation in the body. Water is necessary for the blood to keep moving through the body and bring oxygen and other nutrients to muscles, organs and other tissues. So to feel the best and continue to benefit from the massage, drink more water than usual after your session.
TAKE IT EASY
Your body will let you know how you are feeling. Listen to it. You may feel like having a sleep, or just like continuing to relax with a good book or a film. Do what feels right for you. The aerobic or running session is probably better to plan at another time. Try to avoid stress. Let your body enjoy how it feels. If you are coming at the end of your work day you may want to bring some comfortable clothes to wear afterwards to continue to benefit from the relaxing sensation.
A massage can bring out a sample of different emotions. They may come during the session or afterwards. This is normal that the emotions that we hold on to are released through a relaxing massage. You may feel happy, energised, refreshed but also feel the need to cry. Stress in different forms can have this effect on us and when it is released, the body feels relieved and can let go of the emotions. No reaction is abnormal and it is ok. The massage lowers the stress hormones, and also increases the feel good hormones, which puts us in a good mood.
Many clients often complain about tension in the neck and shoulder area and request and appreciate some extra attention to this area. However, those that frequently suffer from neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Many different reasons as work, play, anxiety, stress and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while folding laundry, doing garden work, playing on the computer or any of the other million things you do. What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are a couple of ideas.
Take a Break
For those of you who have jobs sitting in front of the computer for many hours at a time, it is important to take short breaks as often as possible. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you're chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose.
Get the kids into it
Have a short yoga break together! Yoga may provide you with many benefits and you can easily find yoga videos specially addressed to children. The moves and positions that are demonstrated are just as beneficial for adults. Bonus: got a little one averse to naptime? Try the lying-down postures here and maybe you'll get a short break.
Heat it up
There are different types of heating pads on the market. Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels.
Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It's not complicated, just grab a tennis ball or a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.
A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment.
Welcome to our Massage and Relax blog. We will aim at providing you with monthly topics of interest in relation to wellbeing and massage. We will also post articles and other information in relation to subjects requested by our clients. This month of May we start off with neck and shoulder care between massage appointments. Enjoy your reading !