Recover like an Olympian!

By now I’m sure you’ve seen or read about those circle-like marks on the Olympic swimmers and gymnasts.  They are caused by a treatment called “Cupping” that is an effective way to ease muscle tension, boost circulation, and reduce fascial adhesions. Cupping can be done in a variety of ways from a manually pumping vacuum cups, by heating glass jars (fire cupping), and with silicone cups that we use at East Village Spa.

Michael Phelps posted a photo of his cupping therapy on his Instagram account.

Michael Phelps posted a photo of his cupping therapy on his Instagram account.

At East Village Spa, many of our licensed massage therapists are trained to use silicone cups in a session.  This addition to your therapy is especially beneficial in helping to break up muscle or fascia adhesions, scar tissue, and increase circulation to an area. Cupping is great for lymphatic drainage and helping treat areas that are difficult to stretch, like the IT Band.  Instead of pushing into the tissue, the cups lift the tissue.

Cupping does not always lead to the circular marks everyone is talking about at the Olympics.  These are caused when cups are left in one place for a long period of time. In the cupping sessions we do at East Village Spa, we typically leave cups a shorter period of time in one spot, or are moving them over an area to help lift the tissue.  This therapy is combined with hands-on modalities like deep tissue, myofascial, or trigger point release.

Check out this video of our massage therapist Tisha demonstrating cupping on Molly:

If you are interested in booking a massage session that includes cupping therapy along with traditional massage, call (515) 309-2904 and ask to schedule a massage with one of our therapists with experience in cupping.Massage Therapy Cupping

 

What is your favorite muscle to massage and why?

I took a little survey of our massage therapists to find out what muscle or muscle group they love working on and why.  The answers may surprise you!

Teresa Sage: Neck/cranial base release because it is such a nurturing area and because the tension ebbs and flows from the neck to the upper shoulders, almost always laden and heavy with tension on most people, especially females in my experience.

Teresa Sage demonstrates Craniosacral Massage techniques

Teresa Sage demonstrates Craniosacral Massage techniques

Allison Peterson: Erectors because of how they run the entire length of the spine and when they relax, we notice that surrounding larger muscle groups will open up with more ease.

Tiffany Jackson: The neck muscles because I think that is when people relax the most.

Jamee Koopman: The Psoas!  For more information about psoas massage, click here.

Many muscles in the abdominal area contribute to pain and tension, including the psoas and diaphragm.

Many muscles in the abdominal area contribute to pain and tension, including the psoas and diaphragm.

Clair McClintock: The Diaphragm!  It is often a place that gets left out of treatment for many different ailments.  For example: radiating pain across the ribs, breathing issues, trauma from an accident, and more.  It is not the most relaxing massage but I’ve had so much instant improvement in people’s back pain or some people that have come in with pain they’ve been dealing with for years.  It can be a huge emotional release spot for people.

Cassie Sampson: The Piriformis.  People who have severe pain from sciatic nerve issues can often find relief with massage to the piriformis and surrounding glut and hip muscles.  It wasn’t until I had injured myself and experienced the horrible pain caused by a sciatic nerve issues that I knew just how limiting and painful sciatic nerve issues could be and I liked knowing ways to help.

The piriformis and gluteal muscles can be accessed directly on the skin with proper draping, through sheets or clothing. Gluteal and piriformis massage is extremely beneficial.

The piriformis and gluteal muscles can be treated directly on the skin with proper draping, through sheets or clothing or via stretching. Gluteal and piriformis massage is extremely beneficial.

Justin Behanish: The quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle because it it is the cause (or partial cause) of pain in at least 1/4 of the people who have back-pain.  I think it is too often neglected by massage therapists.

The QL is a small muscle in the lower back that is the root of many peoples' back pain.

The QL is a small muscle in the lower back that is the root of many peoples’ back pain.

Kristiana Moore: The muscles in the feet because many of us stand all day and people find it the most relaxing.  When I get to the foot massage at the end of the session, so many people tend to fall asleep!

If any of our therapist’s responses are tempting you to book a massage to relax your sorest muscles, click here to schedule online!

Too much of a good thing?

We know that there are many benefits to our services and the products people can use at home for self care, but sometimes it is possible to get too much of a good thing!  Here are a few times when it is best to ease up during a treatment or during self care at home.

1: Foam rolling

Foam rollers are great for relieving aches and pains, for myofascial release, and stretching but sometimes people over-do it and can cause injury or tissue damage for excessive or overly aggressive foam rolling.  If foam rolling hurts, you might be bruising or causing tissue inflammation.  Check with your chiropractor, a trusted massage therapist, experienced trainer, or physical therapist for tips.

2: Exfoliation

Who doesn’t love the smooth feeling of their skin after a good facial exfoliation?  Once or twice a week is the perfect amount to exfoliate, but if you do any more than that, your skin can become dry, irritated, and overly sensitive.  Ask an esthetician if you aren’t sure whether you are exfoliating the right amount or with the right consistency product.

3: Pressure during a massage

A bit of “good hurt” is helpful, but massage pressure that causes pain, makes you tense up, or grit your teeth is counterproductive and can actually bruise your tissue and create inflammation.  The ideal working pressure for your body to actually create lasting change (at least when dealing with trigger points) is about a 6-7 out of 10 on the pain scale.  More than that and the body tenses up to defend against the pain, causing even more tightness, potentially bruising and injury.

In most cases, if you are told by a therapist that massage has to “hurt to work” or if you experience soreness that lasts for more than a day after a massage, you might need to try a different therapist or treatment style.  Please, don’t go into a massage and issue your therapist a challenge stating “Bet you can’t hurt me!” because we do not WANT to hurt you and we’d rather give you a great massage than spend 20 minutes explaining why we shouldn’t just pummel you with an elbow.

4: Aromatherapy

Essential oils are a great way to help ease stress, boost focus, and relax sore muscles but they should be used with caution and by following the instructions.  Essential oils should not be used “neat” or directly on the skin without being mixed into a carrier oil or cream.  Some oils can cause irritation, over-exposure to oils can cause side effects (any of us who have made too many blends and bath products at home in a sitting can attest to the headaches, insomnia, or other side-effects we’ve experienced from over-exposure), and some oils are not safe for all health concerns.  The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has some great safety info on their site.

 “Throw moderation to the winds and the greatest pleasures bring the greatest pains.” ~Democritus

Meet Allison Peterson, our Newest Massage Therapist!

Allison Peterson, BA, LMT, started seeing massage clients at our spa this month and is a great addition to our skilled team of licensed massage therapists.  Allison has a degree in kinesiology and communication from Iowa State and has been dancing since she was 3 years old.  She was very active in dance programs at Iowa State and has traveled the world teaching movement workshops.

Allison teaching at a Salsa workshop

Allison teaching at a Salsa workshop

In addition to providing relaxation and sports massage at our spa, Allison continues to dance and teach ballroom and salsa dancing.  She is a great fit for clients who like a nurturing and gentle personality, but who also enjoy deep tissue or more focused work on areas of pain or injury.  Allison’s personal experience in coping with an injury through yoga and movement makes her extra sensitive to the needs of clients who are in pain.

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Proven benefits of massage therapy

In the nearly 10 years I’ve been a massage therapist, it has been really fun to see the shift in attitudes about massage therapy.  It used to be viewed as more of a luxury, or something to do only for fun or a special occasion.  While massage therapy is still an awesome way to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, more people are using it as a regular part of their health and wellness routines.

Groups like the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami have published great studies on the benefits of massage therapy.  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is another great resource for good, solid FACTUAL information.

Findings from massage therapy research is well summarized on an article at MassageTherapy.com and highlights include the following benefits of massage:

  • alleviate low back pain
  • Shorten labor, reduce labor pains, and reduce hospital stays after delivery
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, atrophied muscles
  • Help people working to ease dependence on pain medications
  • Increase joint flexibility
  • Help after surgeries to reduce adhesions and swelling
  • Reduce scar tissue
  • Reduce anxiety and depression (there are great studies on the effects of massage on people undergoing cancer treatments and the effects of massage to reduce their anxiety about their diagnosis)
  • Reduce migraine pain and frequency

The Mayo Clinic lists other benefits including:

  • Help with digestive concerns
  • Help reduce insomnia related to stress (I can personally attest to this!  A hot stone massage does the trick for me!)
  • Reduce pain from TMJ
  • Help recover from sports injuries
  • MORE!

Really, the best way to see if massage can help you is to book one.  Not every kind of massage is beneficial for every condition.  For relaxation, circulation, and stress reduction, a Swedish or Hot Stone massage might be the ticket.  For recovery after a sprain or strain, a myofascial or sports massage is best.  If you’re struggling with migraines, a cold stone massage, craniosacral massage, or other focused massage could help.

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Also, because massage therapy can serve to help so many conditions, it is important to note that not every  massage therapist specializes in every type of massage or in work with every type of injury.  Our clients who are happiest and benefit most from their treatments have 2-3 therapists at the spa they see based on their needs.  They might see Tiffany during their pregnancies and Justin for sports therapy.  They might see Clair for deep tissue and stretching work, but Teresa for migraine help using Craniosacral techniques.  All of our therapists are very flexible in their treatments, but they also are very familiar with what their colleagues specialize in so are always happy to make a referral.  And NO!  You aren’t cheating on your LMT if you try a different style of work!

We have a little quiz (not super scientific, more for fun and info) to help guide you in choosing the best spa massage for you to try for your first time, or you can call and ask Kelly at the front desk what she recommends based on your needs!