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 Spa Newbie Gets a Facial!

We put our intern, Alyssa’s next spa service to test out to a vote and by a close margin, our Facebook fans (and ALL of our estheticians!) suggested she try our EV Signature Facial.  Here’s what Alyssa had to say!


Spa Intern Alyssa relaxes during her first ever Facial at East Village Spa
Spa Intern Alyssa relaxes during her first ever Facial at East Village Spa

The votes came in and I was chosen to try the EV Signature Facial Experience.  The past few years I started to struggle with dry skin and am constantly having to apply moisturizer.  I’m secretly happy (I guess not so secret now) that this is what was selected by all of you!  I have always wanted to get a facial, but never knew where to go.

Never having a facial before, I was not sure what to expect.  Camille used a light on my face to see what problems were going on that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  She was able to adjust the treatment specifically towards my skin care needs.  She used a Clarisonic for a deeper clean and to make the skin more receptive to the products.  I also had steam, which helped to detoxify the skin and soften pores for easier extractions.

Not only did this facial include attention to my face, but I also received treatment to my arms, hands, face, neck, and feet.  Camille explained each process with me and it was nice to understand why.  With this, I was able to understand what type of home care I needed to use.

Camille explained whether you have sensitive or problematic skin, facials are great for deep cleansing and exfoliation.  They stimulate new cell growth for a fresher, younger look.  She recommends to come in every 3-4 weeks so your estheticians can monitor your skin changes and adjust at home care accordingly.

The arsenal of products that Camille, Alyssa's Esthetician, chose to use on her skin.
The arsenal of products that Camille, Alyssa’s Esthetician, chose to use on her skin.

After receiving the facial, I noticed that my skin appears much healthier looking, more moisturized, which made the expression lines on my forehead less defined.  The treatment left my skin feeling very smooth and silky.  I highly recommend the EV Signature Facial Experience.  I’m a believer.  It was truly what my skin was looking for.

Be sure to check out my next blog when I will be spending the day as a Massage Therapy Student at the school where Cassie teaches!


Are you inspired to try a facial?  Click here to book your own EV Signature Facial Experience and meet with one of our skilled and relaxing estheticians.

Great gift ideas for dads!

A 2014 study commissioned by the International Spa Association (ISPA) revealed that men make up 47% of the spa-goers.  As attitudes about health and wellness change and people see spas as a regular part of their health care as opposed to occasional pampering, it makes sense!

Our team has put together a list of 4 great father’s day gift ideas:

1. A Spa Gift Card: While spa gift cards are one of the top Mother’s Day gift ideas, they tend to be overlooked for Father’s Day, but they make AWESOME gifts!  We notice that once men try spa services, they tend to be the most loyal visitors…which is great for stress reduction!

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2. Farmhouse Fresh Bourbon Bubbler Body Scrub: This delicious body scrub is made with real Kentucky Bourbon and is great for exfoliating rough hands.  To quote some of our male clients “It smells like bourbon and donuts!”  No wonder they love it!


3. Clarisonic Mia for Men: This version of the Mia comes in gunmetal gray with a deep cleanse brush head.  If the man in your life has been stealing your Clarisonic (and really, you shouldn’t share brush heads) it is time for him to get his own!  Also great for active or out-doorsy guys who get clogged pores.  This is easy to use, feels great, and helps keep skin healthy.

clarisonic men's mia

4. Kneipp Joint and Muscle Products: Perfect for men who have arthritis, joint, or muscle pain, the Kneipp line of products is time-tested and effective with ingredients like arnica, wintergreen, and juniper.  These products come in bath salts, liquid baths, massage oils, and arnica topical gels.

kneipp joint and muscle

We are always happy to help make suggestions.  You can book a spa treatment for dad OR purchase an online gift card here.  You can also stop in and we can help you find a great father’s day gift, prepare a gift card in-store and gift wrap them together.   This father’s day, help the men in your life discover new ways to relieve pain, de-stress, and stay healthy!


The Spa Newbie Gets a Pedicure!

Alyssa, our intern from Grandview
Alyssa, our intern from Grandview

Blog post by Grandview Business Student and Spa Intern, Alyssa:

As a business management student, I never thought I would find myself in a day spa yet alone interning at one.  I grew up in a town of less than 130 people, so there were not many amenities to be found.  A great opportunity arose and I will be working at East Village Spa for the summer.  One of the perks about being at a spa is getting to try out the services they have to offer.

I was ready to bust out the sandals for the summer but my feet have seen better days. A pedicure was calling my name. Cassandra was my nail technician and she used the watermelon basil vodkatini scrub and then then for the foot massage, ginger sorbet lotion. I can’t express how great the foot rub was; it was the ultimate relaxation. I chose Vinylux Tropix as my color. I am all about the bright pinks for the summer months.

As a newbie, I have only had experienced two pedicures. I’ve been to places that made me stick my feet into whirlpool chairs. I noticed that East Village Spa used a foot bath instead so I got a little curious as to why. I learned that whirlpool chairs are not sanitary and can cause infections if the jets are not cleaned properly. The spa uses a clean disposable liner which is sterile. They also use single use nail kits which you can take home with you. You can really tell the spa cares about health safety.

Overall, I loved the experience and am very glad I got to start off the summer with some fresh sandal ready feet. I am eager to try other services during my time here like the Skin Renewal Peel and EV Signature Massage. I feel very lucky that I was able to get such a great internship here at East Village Spa!

Note from the spa:  If you want to try out the Wellness Pedicure that Alyssa had, or ANY of our great services, click here and schedule your appointment online!