How do massage therapists manage their own pain?

One of the most frequently asked questions I heard when I was practicing massage was “how often do YOU get a massage?” As massage therapists, we learn to get a good read on our bodies and learn what works well to prevent or manage our own pain.  Some of the LMTs on our team shared what works best for them, and their favorite referrals.

Camdine: I use a Lacrosse ball on my hips, back, and neck to massage painful spots. Camdine also uses locally produced Rapid Fire to reduce pain.

Julie: Daily stretches, epsom salt and Kneipp arnica bath soaks 3x week, a glass of warm Pure Inventions Tranquility tea (with magnesium) before bed, Rapid Fire to control small areas of pain, regular massages and chiropractic care as needed.

Julie’s favorite nighttime  drink is the Pure Inventions Tranquility which contains chamomile, passion flower, and magnesium.

Jamee: I use acupressure as a cure for everything but death, and I haven’t died yet. I see my personal massage therapist (co-worker Tiffany) regularly. I also purchased a Yoga trapeze that is a miracle for low back pain.

Heather: Massage 2-3x a month, regular visits with chiropractor Dr. Pulley (East Village Chiropractic)

Our employees massage each other and also see therapists outside the spa when their co-workers are booked. We all know the importance of “practicing what we preach!”

Hannah M: Staying active after a hard day reduces tension for me.

Jamee (cont’d): …On second thought, I should get a med alert bracelet made up that says in an emergency, call my massage therapist (Tiffany.)

Brandi: Yoga and using a foam roller, a 30 minute daily walk, get adjusted at Shine Chiropractic weekly, Fadeaway Flotation monthly.

Tisha: Rapid fire for aches, pains, and headaches, cupping therapy, foam roller, yoga, and a monthly massage (more often when needed!)

Most of our employees swear by Rapid Fire for muscle aches and tension headaches.

Conny: I’m not in pain often, but if it happens, I either overworked something or an emotional issue came up. For physical pain, I use rapid fire and a soak in a hot bath with epsom salts, receive massage twice a month. A good book, a glass of wine, and a friend for heartache.

 

Conny is especially partial to Kneipp bath salts because like her, they are from Germany.

Cassie: The older I get the more my joints act up, especially after running, biking, and swimming. In addition to regular massage, I see Dr. Pulley for chiropractic care when I overdo it or something feels “off.” I have done regular pilates at Gigi’s Pilates for about 6 years. Sometimes stretching isn’t the answer (or isn’t the only answer). The strengthening techniques in Pilates really help my low back and knees from screaming after longer runs.

If I miss to many pilates sessions, my body rebels and I get low back spasms that make it hard to run. I have learned the importance of strength training to keep everything working like it should!

Want to try massage therapy or one of our favorite pain relieving products for your own aches and pains? Stop into East Village Spa at 601 East Locust or book online!

Kneipp Wellness: A Fascinating History

Before we invest in a product line, we like to know the story and get a feeling for the company.  Kneipp, a German line we carry, has an awesome story and long history of offering balance, pain relief, and relaxation naturally. The rare instances we have German spa visitors, it is a blast to see them rush the Kneipp product display. It shows that many have the utmost respect for the founder, Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897)

dpag-1997-sebastiankneippHistory

Sebastian Kneipp was a priest, naturopathic doctor, and is widely considered to be the father of hydrotherapy. He believed he cured his tuberculosis with regular dips in the icy Danube river. He worked with a pharmacist to develop a line of medicinal cures and many of the formulations are included in today’s Kneipp remedies.  He continued to share the benefits of water in wellness treatments, including wading pools, baths, and using water in other ways to ease pain.

People walking in a Kneipp pool

Kneipp pools such as this exist today. Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/simpleinsomnia/

kneipphistoryProduction

Today the Kneipp salts are still mined using traditional methods from Europe’s last remaining salt cave, which is 250 million years old and 1500 feet deep so the salts are not exposed to environmental pollutants.  Products are planted derived, free of animal products, free of preservatives and mineral oil, eco-friendly, and dermatologist tested for skin safety.

The Kneipp Philosophy Today

Sebastian Kneipp believed that the five pillars to health were water, plants, exercise, nutrition, and balance.  This simple philosophy is embraced by spas and wellness providers today.  In the foothills of the Bavarian alps, there is an entire town dedicated to Kneipp wellness, “Kneipp town.” The spa village of Bad Wörishofen features Kneipp treatments at all lodgings and doctors practice Kneipp wellness. In Kneipp wellness communities, you’ll find many hydrotherapy tubs, walking paths where people walk through streams and in nature, and more!

mandarin_oriental_hong_kong_kneipp_pool_and_ice_fountain

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Spa in Hong Kong features a Kneipp walking pool and ice bath.  (Wikimedia Commons)

Our East VillageSpa Best Kneipp Sellers:

Kneipp products are incredibly popular, especially with clients who hope to continue their relaxation and pain-relief benefits post-massage. The Kneipp Bath Salts are our top seller, with the top three scents being:

  • Arnica joint relief
  • Juniper muscle relief
  • Eucalyptus Cold and Sinus relief
  • Red Hemp and Poppy “Pure Bliss”

Our top-selling Kneipp oil is the Devil’s Claw, which aids in pack pain, neck pain, and headache relief.  Our massage therapists love incorporating this oil, plus the arnica products into treatments.

Our best selling bath salt from Kneipp is ideal for people who have joint and muscle pain or arthritis.

Our best selling bath salt from Kneipp is ideal for people who have joint and muscle pain or arthritis.

Learn more about Kneipp through their website, or visit us at East Village Spa to smell and feel the different products, pick up literature, or ask our team for guidance on hydrotherapy and aromatherapy!

Source:

My Water Cure by Sebastian Kneipp

Kneippus.com

Quickly stop a calf cramp with this easy trick

Of all the self care massage techniques and tricks I’ve learned in 10 years as a massage therapist, the concept of reciprocal inhibition has been the most useful to me personally.  Put simply, if a muscle is in spasm, you can stop the spasm by engaging the opposing muscle.

I’m frequently awoken by charlie horses (calf cramps, or a spasm of the Gastrocnemius muscle).  The natural tendency is to want to grab the muscle and massage or to stretch it out.  This can help, but what works best is to engage the opposing muscle, the Tibialis Anterior, as both can’t be firing at once!

To stop the gastrocnemius (calf) muscle from firing, you have to engage the tibialis anterior muscle.

To stop the Gastrocnemius (calf) muscle from firing, you have to engage the Tibialis Anterior muscle.

 

Reciprocal Inhibition with a partner

Reciprocal Inhibition with a partner

If you have a partner (or are helping someone else who is in the middle of a spasm in their calf) you’ll want to push their their toes toward the ground, then have them flex their ankle to bring their toes toward their body.  Basically, have them resist you, thus engaging the muscles in the front of their lower leg (specifically, the Tibialis Anterior).  In this photo, my partner is trying to push my toes toward the ground but I’m resisting so she can’t.

This should stop the spasm right away.  If you don’t have a partner (or you are courteous enough to not wake your significant other up in the middle of the night when you get a charlie horse!) you can apply the same principle yourself by using your other foot to push the against the top of the foot on the side with the spasming calf muscle while you try to draw your toes toward your body to resist the pressure.

Applying reciprocal inhibition techniques to your own muscle spasm

Applying reciprocal inhibition techniques to your own muscle spasm

This technique can be applied to many different muscles, but the calf is an easy spot to start and a common trouble spot for many people.  I have tried this successfully many times at 3 am.  I’ve even applied the same principle during open water swim races when I get calf cramps by letting one of my feet press against the other foot and resisting.  I don’t even have to stop swimming (just kicking) to do it!  It has saved me from some serious issues in the middle of a lake.

Curious about other applications for reciprocal inhibition or just want a more in-depth explanation?  Click here for a good article!  If you ever have the opportunity to test it out, I’d love to hear if it worked for you.  Feel free to post a comment.

The beauty of a bath

Just typing this blog post makes me long for a soak in the tub with a good book and my favorite Kneipp bath liquids.  Baths are not only indulgent, but as any bathing aficionado knows, the health benefits can’t be denied!

Okay, I did get inspired by my own post and filled my trusty tub with beautiful blue Deep Sleep liquid bath from Kneipp. :)

Okay, I did get inspired by my own post and filled my trusty tub with beautiful blue Deep Sleep liquid bath from Kneipp. 🙂

Relief of joint and muscle pain:

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a warm bath benefits people who have fibromyalgia, low back pain, and arthritis.  For added benefits, try using a muscle soak in your bath like Kneipp’s Arnica Joint Relief or Juniper Muscle Ache bath soaks.

Bedtime benefits:

The Mayo Clinic suggests trying a bath at bedtime as part of your night time ritual.  For added benefit, we recommend trying the Kneipp Valerian and Hops Deep Sleep bath blend or the Lavender Bath blends.  Kneipp recommends scheduling bedtime 15-20 minutes after a soak in their deep sleep bath.

Flexibility benefits:

A warm bath is a great place to gently stretch or massage easy to reach muscles like your calves, quads, or in your feet.  Scheduling a massage or chiropractic adjustment, gentle yoga or stretching after a bath is great too because muscles are warmed up and loose.

Circulatory Boost:

For people with  poor circulation or to warm up in the winter, a warm bath will help arteries and veins to expand and increase blood flow.  I especially love (and need!) a bath after a winter run outside.

To enhance the circulatory benefits, add an aromatherapy bath with warming oils like Kneipp’s Spruce and Pine bath.

Soften Skin:

While bathing in overly hot water or salts can dry out skin, a bath in a softening or hydrating oil can nurture and moisturize skin, especially hard-to-reach skin on the back.  A tablespoon of almond or jojoba oil added to the bath or some of Kneipp’s skin soft almond bath will leave skin feeling great.

Bath Safety:

The arthritis foundation recommends soaking in warm (not hot) water between 92 and 100 degrees.  They caution that anything hotter can stress the cardiovascular system, particularly for people predisposed to heart problems.

Adding oil to the tub will make it slick so be careful getting out of the bath and use caution the next morning if you hop in the shower to make sure it isn’t still slick!

Lastly, don’t add essential oils directly to your bath without a carrier oil or salt!  There are many great soaking blends from companies like Kneipp that have proper instructions and dilutions, if you don’t have ample aromatherapy training or background, stick with those.  Essential oils won’t mix with water so if you put drops of them “neat” (right out of the bottle undiluted with oil or salt) in your tub, you may end up with a burn (possibly in a sensitive spot!) because the oil won’t dissolve.  Trust me, I can attest to this.  Ouch!

What are your favorite bath rituals, products, or blends?

 

What is Derma E’s Best Selling Product?

Derma E’s top selling product (for us AND company wide!) is their Microdermabrasion Scrub.  It really is “A facial in a jar!”  This finely milled scrub is well-suited for ALMOST all skin types.  The only skin type that should avoid the scrub is people who have inflamed, open acne.

Whether you have dry or oily skin, this scrub will exfoliate dead skin cells, remove impurities, unclog pores, improve circulation, polish the skin, and reduce patchiness and flakiness-especially important in the winter!  Another great benefit of using the Microdermabrasion scrub is that it allows serums and moisturizers to penetrate deeper into the skin, increasing their effectiveness.

We recommend using the scrub 1-2x per week.  Exfoliating the skin is really good, but over-exfoliating the skin doesn’t allow enough time for the cells to turnover between treatments.  This scrub is great because it can be used with just a drop of water after cleansing for a more abrasive scrub, or in the shower with more water for a less abrasive scrub, depending on your skin’s sensitivity level and exfoliation needs.

Derma E's Microdermabrasion Scrub is available at East Village Spa

Derma E’s Microdermabrasion Scrub is available at East Village Spa

This product retails at our spa for just $33.95, lasts a LONG time, and our regular Derma E Special is buy 3 products at once, get one FREE so you can really see the benefits of the scrub when combined with other Derma E serums, cleansers, and moisturizers!

Simple solutions for mild headaches

Last night I went crazy biking the hills in my neighborhood, my lungs were on fire and I was so focused on my training that I completely neglected the water bottle on my bike.  About two hours after my ride, a nasty headache set in when I realized I hadn’t properly re-hydrated (my chocolate malt didn’t count).  Days like that I wish I had a huge watermelon cut up and ready to go!
tensionheadacheFor mild headaches brought on by dehydration from a crazy night out or not drinking enough water on your run, hormones, or dietary imbalances, changing up what you eat could help.This article suggests 9 foods to try to relieve headaches from many common causes.

Massage therapy can also be a great relief for lots of tension-type headaches brought on by poor posture, overdoing it with chores or sports, or stress.  Your therapist will focus on the common trigger points that are known to cause pain in the neck, shoulders, face, or jaw area.  He or she might also recommend general relaxation massage for all-over stress relief.

Do you have any proven headache remedies?

Severe headaches or migraines could be a symptom of a more serious problem and might require medical attention.

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