There are plenty of tools that you can use to help yourself feel better in between massage appointments. There are foam rollers, therapy canes, electronic devices providing percussion or vibration, and balls of all kinds. You’ll see ways to use tennis, golf, racquet, and lacrosse balls for massage purposes.

These can be great to have at home, at work, or when you travel. They can help ease some pain when you can’t get in for a massage. Life events pop up and make it difficult to squeeze a massage into your schedule at times.

Massage is a great part of your plan for taking care of yourself, but of course it can’t be the only thing. It makes sense to have other activities and some tools to keep you feeling good regularly. For example rolling your sore and tired feet on a golf ball for a few minutes feels wonderful – and it helps get you up off the couch and moving again.

Before you ditch your massage therapist completely, there are some things to consider.

Your tool does only one action. Most just compress your muscles. But that’s not all you need to feel better. In a massage your muscles are pulled, squeezed, kneaded, and stretched as well as being compressed. One tool isn’t the solution to everything. Hammers are good – for hammering. When you need to paint, drill a hole, or tighten a nut they are not nearly as useful.

Tools are not are educated in how your body works. Your tool won’t know when to stop and your muscles may get overworked. Working in some areas of your body can be dangerous and may cause serious problems. Obviously you want to feel better, not worse afterwards.

Massage therapists have also learned about how much pressure to use and how best to work on a muscle. They can evaluate the progress and change the pressure or try a different technique. They may move you into different positions to change the angle to reach a muscle more effectively.

Some tools may require you to get on the floor or bend a certain way. This can be a challenge to some who are lacking in mobility or agility.

Pain can be tricky. You may feel the pain in one area but the real source can be somewhere else. If you only address where you feel the pain you will just treat the symptom and the pain will return. A massage therapist can often track down the source and help address the real problem.

There’s more to a massage than just working on your muscles. You get personal attention, listened to, and cared for. Your body and mind can both relax as you let go of your responsibilities for a while.

Tools for use at home can provide some nice benefits in between massages. Most of us enjoy saving money but when we need something important done correctly we pay a professional. Your body is the only place you have to live. Take care of it right.

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The use of strength is massage therapy

By Benjamin J. Falk (1853-1925) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Eugen_Sandow.jpg, originally uploaded 13:46, 31 August 2005 by en:User:Johnteslade, Public Domain

A common perception in our world is that more is better. More power and more strength are looked on favorably. If there’s a problem we want to use all of our strength and power to fix it.

A more effective and efficient solution is often accomplished by using less strength. How is that possible?

First it’s important to understand what is causing your pain or impaired function. My education in massage is far beyond the minimum Texas requirements. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort to continue my education after my formal school program ended. I am well trained in your muscles and their functions. Through my continuing education I have learned techniques that will help restore optimal function and reduce pain.  Most importantly, I am able to reduce pain and stiffness without brute force.

Have you ever tried to move something heavy but you can’t on your own? Often it can be moved with a lever and a bar with far less effort. Heavy items can be moved more easily if you load them on a cart or something with wheels.  Bulky items can be moved with ease if they are loaded on a raft or boat on the water.

Strength is not the solution for everything. You can get a deep massage with a lot of pressure that leaves you sore afterwards with mixed results. Or you can get a massage using enough pressure from somebody who understands the real issue and uses techniques that are designed to solve the problem.

You can use all your strength to crack an egg. The egg will indeed crack, but you end up with a mess instead of the result you really want.

So when you come in you will notice that I’m not a bodybuilder or physically imposing. I’ll use my strength – which is a combination of knowledge, technique, and physical strength – to get you the results you want.

See you soon!  Vikki


In today’s world, we are inundated with choices. Although many of us set out on a quest for the “good life,” we often find ourselves committed to activities that do little to reward us with the real prize we are seeking. If asked to list the most important elements in life, would you agree that feeling your best and having meaningful relationships would be among your highest priorities?

One of the major challenges we all face is reducing stress, a major cause of health problems and mental anguish. Stress is such an insidious problem. It can sneak into your life and quietly settle in, actually throwing your body’s entire system out of balance. Most of disease is precipitated by stress, so reducing stress is vital to your future health. (See the following article for hints to lessen stress.)

Of the many actions you can take to improve the quality of your life, making sure you get regular massage sessions is one of the most important. To give you an idea of how much massage can help you, look at just one basic benefit bodywork offers you. Your overall health depends on the proper movement of fluids throughout your body. The circulation of blood, lymph, even the fluids that fill all the spaces in between the cells—these are the activities that assist in maintaining a healthy body. This movement of fluids is the lifeline to the tissues throughout your body, providing life-giving nourishment to every cell. Massage contributes to these flows and subsequently can help your body to function more optimally.

When you take on a project, you want to have proper tools for the job. In the “job” of life, having a healthy mind and body and a positive outlook can put the odds in your favor with every task you face.

Each year, new studies document that massage is an effective means of bettering your health in many ways, as well as bringing your body into a better state of balance and harmony.

Whatever your goals in life, you’ll be better equipped to succeed when you are physically, emotionally and mentally at your best. When you are operating at your peak, you can handle anything life throws your way much more effectively. Massage can help you stay at the top of your game, so put regular sessions at the top of your list!

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February 9 starts International Random Acts of Kindness Week. Their website is packed with great ideas on how to celebrate, and I especially love the approach of committing a random act of kindness for three different people:

  • Someone you don’t know
  • Someone you know
  • Yourself

Someone you don’t know

This are pretty simple and can quickly become a habit. (That’s a good thing!)

Smile. When you’re in a depressingly long line at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler’s public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life.

Someone you know

Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.

Make it a point to touch someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver!

Yourself

People depend on you, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, get a massage (call me at 210-705-0644), go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop at your favorite mall.

Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!

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Stress & Massage

As you face the challenges of living from day to day, you are probably aware to what degree your life can be a roller-coaster ride. What most of us don’t really think about all that much is how the events of our lives can impact us internally, creating literally thousands of physical changes each day

This article focuses on how the stressful situations in life can affect you in the long run, and how important your regular massages are to maintaining a body in healthy balance

Please let me know what areas of health and massage you’d like to learn more about so they can be addressed in the future. The more you know about your body and how to care for it, the more you’ll be in a position to enjoy a long and healthy life.

I look forward to seeing you at your next session and helping you to improve your current condition. Until then, take care.

Ever Feel Stressed Out?

How Massage Helps with Stress - Skillful Touch Massage

Picture by Amy McTigue from Flickr

Of all the modern-day ailments that seem to affect us, none is more pervasive than stress. Everywhere you turn, there are factors lurking to redirect you from your peaceful pursuit of happiness and lock you in the clutches of “stress.”

What exactly is stress—and what more insidious effects does it cause? The dictionary defines stress as “great pressure or force; strain.” In today’s world, we think of stress as the result of too much pressure laid upon us by life, causing mental worry or anguish. This, in turn, manifests itself in tight neck and shoulders, headaches, nervous stomach, etc. But these physical and mental conditions are really only the beginning.

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more threatening health conditions. For instance:

A sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream. This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the muscles. This physical response was appropriate generations ago when it was needed for our very survival, but today much of our stress is emotional. With the high number of mental stress incidents that we can experience each day, these repetitive physical responses can begin to wear out all of the body’s intricate systems.

When your stress is chronic, your body releases cortisol, a hormone designed to help the body handle a period of prolonged physical stress. This hormone is hard for the body to metabolize and consequently can lead to an immune system that becomes heavily suppressed, a damaged cardiovascular system, and a worn out endocrine system (the system responsible for handling stressful conditions).

According to Paul J. Rosch, M.D., president of the American Institute of Stress, in Yonkers, N.Y., the following are some of the common stress symptoms:

• Frequent headaches, jaw clenching, or teeth grinding
• Neck ache, back pain, or muscle spasms
• Frequent colds and infections
• Rashes, itching, hives or unexplained allergy attacks
• Chest pain, palpitations, or rapid pulse
• Excess anxiety, worry, guilt or nervousness
• Depression or frequent mood swings
• Insomnia or nightmares
• Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, confusion
• Significant weight gain or loss without diet change
• Nervous habits such as fidgeting
• Constant tiredness, weakness, or fatigue

Regular massage is the ideal remedy for a stressful life. You first experience the relief from massage’s soothing movements that can loosen tense muscles, but there are so many more benefits.

Massage can open the lines of communication throughout your body. For instance, your blood and lymph circulation is increased, which helps all parts of your body to receive essential nutrients, dispose of waste products, and defend against disease.

Stress may take its greatest toll on the nervous system. Massage can address the imbalances that stress causes in your body by stimulating the sensory receptors that interconnect and harmonize all areas of your body, bringing it back into proper balance. This brings about that sense of well-being you experience that goes far beyond the release of tense muscles.

Studies from the Touch Research Institute in Miami indicate that stress hormones consistently fall after massage, no matter what the age of the client. Workers receiving massages showed brain waves that reflect greater mental alertness, and their feelings of job stress were markedly reduced. Nighttime sleep patterns also improved. Tiffany Field, director of TRI, summarizes: “People think massage is just running hands over the surface of the body. But in stimulating the skin, we’re showing you’re overhauling the nervous system.”

Between massages, try to lessen stress in your life by avoiding its causes. Try to identify what gets you stressed. Is it necessary to be affected by the situation? Can you alter the situation so it’s no longer stressful to you?
Realize that in most cases you have to agree that something is stressful to you before it can affect you adversely. Are you actually creating the stress yourself?

If you want further information, or have specific questions regarding stress, just ask at your next session. See you then!

 

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Considering that muscle makes up seventy to eight-five percent of the body’s weight, it’s no wonder that most people think of bodywork as “muscle-work.” A better understanding of muscles should help you to appreciate further how important regular massage is to your muscles—and to your overall health!

How do muscles work?  A simple answer is that muscles are composed of long, slender fibers that are capable of three things: they can shorten, lengthen or lock into place. Ideally, they function properly. When they don’t, you begin to experience tightness, or feel stiff, achy or sore.

When you consider that your muscles’ duties include maintaining structural stability and being responsible for virtually every movement of the body, from the minute regulation of an artery to extensive motions, it’s a wonder how efficiently they perform!

What causes muscular difficulties?  Although we tend to think of a sore or strained muscle as an individual problem, all of your musculature is interconnected. This means that when you perceive a painful spot, other areas are involved to some degree. The most recognized causes for muscle problems include overuse or underuse, lack of proper nutrition and/or oxygen, build-up of toxins, and imbalances.

Imbalances are caused when a group of muscles includes certain muscles that currently are mismatched with their partners. For example, if you bend your arm and then straighten it, your biceps do much of the work to accomplish the first motion, while your triceps take on the job of straightening. If the biceps are proportionally stronger than the triceps (or vice versa), you have an imbalance that can cause you some distress.

BabyBoomerReceivingMasspictureHigh300If you have tight muscles, say in your back shoulder area, this tension can have an effect on the opposing muscles in the upper chest area. In some cases, you may be more aware of the opposing muscles than the muscles that are actually causing the discomfort.

Muscles can develop a state of constant tension for various reasons, including stressful life situations and learned patterns we all evolve as we age. Each of us has developed muscular habits throughout our lives—the way we sit or stand, perform tasks, etc. Add to this the fact we store our anxiety in our muscles—particularly in the neck and shoulder area—and most of us have many areas in need of attention.

Each muscle that is chronically tense is a muscle that is constantly working, even though it’s not doing any actual work. These muscles create a continuing cycle that diminishes blood flow to the area, produces toxins, depletes energy from other areas, and causes discomfort and eventual disuse.

Muscles receive their instructions via nerve impulses. These nerve connections are vital to the health of the muscle tissue; if the nerve supply is lost, the muscle begins to atrophy. The chronically tense muscle cycle discussed previously contributes to the toxicity of the related nerve cells, irritating them and furthering the muscular contractions. If left uninterrupted, this vicious cycle can wreak havoc with your body’s healthy function.

The above information should make it very clear to you how beneficial massage can be to your overall health. As each affected muscular area is worked on, a more normal function can be returned. When you make the commitment to get regular bodywork sessions, you can expect to see far better results, as more time can be spent improving your overall condition, instead of having to focus on easing the pain of chronically tense muscles.

Do your best to make regular bodywork sessions a normal part of your life and enjoy better muscle function—and feel the difference! See you soon.

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Total-Body-Health-with-MassageMany people seek out massage therapy as a treatment. The benefits of massage are many. Whether you are looking to relax or to heal, massage has a lot to offer.

There are various massage treatments and styles, each designed to naturally target the area of your body that needs to be treated. Sports massage, for example, helps to break down acids which build in the muscles during strenuous sport activity. The massage helps get the muscles get back into an acclimated form, and also help reduce sports-related injuries from occurring because it helps incorporate stretching and motion into the body, relaxing the muscles and calming them. A sports massage aids both pre and post sport events because it helps increase the circulation in the muscles and helps speed up the blood flow to reduce the adrenaline that is built up. If there is a sports injury the massage can help place the athlete back into a functional mode. Every muscle has a memory, and if injured, a massage helps put the muscle back into the position it belongs in, helping prevent or stop muscle bulging and Charley horses. Shiatsu, a form of massage that uses pressure and acupuncture in order to stimulate and redistribute energy throughout your body and especially your muscles, is often used on athletes and is proven to relieve muscle tension.

Another area in which massage therapy can be beneficial is during pregnancy. A mother’s heart rate speeds up while she is pregnant, which helps supply the unborn child with oxygen and blood. However, the body is so occupied with supplying the baby that the mother’s hands, feet and other areas become cold from lack of blood supply. Getting regular massages while pregnant increases the blood circulation throughout the mother’s body. If there are any complications massage helps keep it to a minimum and helps with the birthing process. Being massaged while pregnant also helps relive pain caused by being pregnant, such as back pain, leg cramps etc.

People’s medical ailments often come from pain caused by an unknown source. Massages can help drain toxins out of your body and get your circulation going. It helps maintain your system and helps keep you from getting sick. If you have a cold or flu, your recovery time will be a lot quicker if you get a massage during it. The sickness will come on faster but it will also be gone faster, sometimes making you ill for a matter of hours instead of days.

Even emotional issues can benefit from massage. Massaging certain areas through the use of acupuncture and reflexology can increase cerebral spinal fluid as well as be both relaxing and therapeutic. Fire Cupping, another unique form of massage, is a treatment where a cotton ball dipped in 50% or greater alcohol is lit and the cotton ball is then introduced inside of the cup for a brief second. The cup is then placed on the patient. As a small vacuum has been created by the combustion of the oxygen inside the cup, the skin is drawn up into the cup creating a seal. This method actually draws toxins out of your skin, leaving you feel lighter and refreshed afterward.

Massage therapy can do a world of good for you. It can ease your pain, relax your body and cleanse your soul. So the next time you need a little cleansing time, find a massage therapist, and let their hands heal you, both inside and out.

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It’s February! We made it through the holidays just to get inundated with notions of chocolate, flowers, bling, and extravagant weekends in wine country to ‘reconnect with the one you love’.

But what if we pass on the chocolate and Ziggy cards and approach the day (or the whole month!) with a focus on connecting with the people we care about. Not just your significant other, but your best friend that you never have a chance to talk to for more than 4 minutes before a baby demands attention. Or maybe your favorite uncle who was always quick with a lousy joke and equally fast in sneaking you a cookie when your mom wasn’t looking.

Share some time with someone. Make a pedicure date with your best friend. If you can each bring along your favorite mom, aunt, extremely sweet older neighbor who watches out for your kids, even better.

If you can’t set aside that much time with everyone’s busy schedules, drop off a piece of cake from your favorite bakery. Or keep it crazy cost effective and have your kid finger-paint a very special valentine for their teacher.

Appreciate someone. Look your favorite dry cleaner/butcher/school bus driver right in the eye and say, “Thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you do for me. You make my life easier.”

Drop an email to your kid’s basketball coach and say, “Thank you. My kid loves playing basketball, and I really appreciate that you give your time to make that possible.”

Massage someone. I know, this sounds weird, huh? I’m a massage therapist and I’m telling you to Do It Yourself. But massage doesn’t have to be an hour long ordeal with fancy oils and a complicated routine.

Watch a video and treat your partner to a hand or foot massage. Grab this amazing book, A Modern Day Guide to Massage for Children, and learn how to massage your favorite little buddy.

Give the gift of massage. You can pick up a gift certificate right here.

Bonus: Connect with YOU. Not everyone schedules regular massage, and that’s okay. But if it’s been awhile, maybe it’s time to practice a little self-care and get yourself a massage, too. The best gift you can give the people you love is a happy, healthy you.

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Welcome to the New Year

Have you made your plans and set new goals for the coming year? Please be sure to make your own health and well-being a high priority! The steps you take today determine your future.

If you haven’t already done so, you can make your life easier and more enjoyable by scheduling your massage sessions in advance. It’s so nice to have your next massage already planned and on your calendar, a special time set aside just for you.
Did you realize how effective massage could be toward strengthening your immune system? This letter focuses on how you can help your body defend itself against potential illness.

If you have been wanting to introduce someone to the many benefits of massage, keep in mind that a gift certificate is a great way to get them started. Also, massage gift certificates make ideal presents for nearly any occasion.

Have a wonderful and rewarding year filled with health and happiness. See you soon!

Building a Strong Immune System

This is the season that we are the most susceptible to an illness such as the flu or a nagging cold. What better time to strengthen your immune system? And what better way than with massage? First, take a closer look at what an amazing and vital job your immune system does for you.

Your immune system truly has a daunting assignment—to defend and protect your body from an environment laden with threatening forms of bacteria, viruses, etc., as well as dangers like cancer. These various health threats are seeking any weakness in your defenses that will allow them to set up house and raise a large family, at the expense of your health.

Understanding the basic functions of your immune system might help you appreciate what a remarkable job it performs. Virtually every cell in your body has specific molecules on its surface that identifies itself as being part of “you.” This enables your immune system to differentiate between you and foreign organisms and to send its defensive team after any hostile invaders.

When a health threat has been identified, your body produces various substances to combat it. For instance, certain proteins (antibodies) will be deployed to attach themselves to the attackers to mark them for destruction. Various cells are present to devour certain infected cells, kill parasites, destroy cancer cells, and cope with allergens, while other immune responses occur that help to heal or defend the body.

Your immune system consists of an elaborate and complex network of trillions of white blood cells. Concentrations of these cells are found in your lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow—on call to defend you 24 hours a day. You may be surprised to learn that the largest immunological organ in your body is your intestine, with 70%-80% of all antibody-producing cells located in your digestive system.

A properly functioning immune system produces just enough response to handle the problem, then drops back to alert status. Just as you can have too little response (as from a weakened immune system), it is possible for your immune system to overreact. An overactive system may lead to conditions such as allergies or autoimmune conditions (like arthritis, lupus, insulin-dependent diabetes, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis). These occur when the immune system confuses the body’s own cells with invader cells and attacks its own tissues. So not only do you need a strong immune system, you need one that is well balanced.

Your immune system is tied to and affected by your emotional state—whether you are elated, angry, fatigued, or stressed. Stress actually decreases natural defenses resulting in less efficient and slower healing, and a greater susceptibility to infection

So how does massage help your immune system?

“ ‘In one study after another, research is suggesting that massage therapy has a positive impact on immune function,’ said Diane Zeitlin, research associate at the Center for Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Kessler Medical Rehabilitation and Education Corporation, West Orange, N.J.

“ ‘An increase in white blood cells and natural killer-cell activity better prepares the body to fight off possible invading cells,’ said Zeitlin. ‘These cellular changes suggest the immune system benefited from the massages, and these findings fall in line with previous research.’ ”

In a study conducted by the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami on women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, the women received regular massage therapy (three times a week for five weeks), with 80 percent showing improved immune function.

“ ‘These are the first studies that show an effect of massage therapy on an immune function test, which can support the use of massage therapy to alleviate stress, relax muscles and now possibly serve as an alternative medical practice,’ said Michael Ruff, Ph.D., research associate professor at Georgetown University Medical School.”

So give your immune system some help this season with regular massage sessions! Call today to schedule your next appointment.

Reference: 1. American Massage Therapy Association

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Why-More-Professional-Sports-Teams-Are-Hiring-Massage-TherapistsIt’s not just the coaches and trainers helping athletes from the sidelines anymore, massage therapists are now joining the ranks. An increasing number of professional sports teams are adding a massage therapist to the payroll. What’s the benefit to having a trained masseuse on hand to treat an athlete? Here’s a quick look at a few reasons.

Improved recovery time

Sports are physical, there’s no way around it. At some point during an athlete’s career, they’re going to be injured. From pulled muscles to broken bones, any injury can take a player away from the game. A massage therapist can ease the strained throwing arm of a pitcher or improve blood flow in the shoulders of a linebacker. Studies show these kinds of treatments can improve recovery time and get the athlete back to the field faster.

Relaxation

If there were a big game on the line, any coach would want his or her players relaxed. Massage is a great way to unwind before a game. Rather than letting adrenaline build up in the muscles and joints, a soothing Swedish massage can keep an athlete limber going into the game.

Specialized education

A massage therapist can now specialize in sports massage, which means the team benefits from the therapist’s detailed knowledge. They know how to treat injuries specific to athletes.

Sports massage isn’t just for multi-million dollar pro athletes, any athlete can seek the help of a trained therapist to help with athletic performance.

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