Drawn In: A Primer on Aromatherapy as a Massage Enhancement

Drawn In

We do a lot to at The Good Life Massage to help our clients feel relaxed, and to create an atmosphere of calm and healing. This can be done with all five senses–our specialty being touch, of course. But our second favorite way? Follow your nose.

Our aromatherapy session enhancement is the ideal way to give your massage a little dose of emotional healing. Massage already has great benefits for mental health, particularly depression, negative body image, and others, but adding the aromatherapy enhancement gives that aspect of your treatment a powerful boost.

Skeptical?
It’s understandable. There are no studies or evidence that aromatherapy can heal or cure disease. But that’s not what it’s for, and we make no claim to that. It’s undeniable, though, that aromatherapy has an impact on emotional health and well-being.

Still skeptical? When was the last time you smelled fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies after a hard day? Or coffee as you try to wake up on a rough morning? Smell is potent in shifting mood, and in activating memory and emotion. You might be surprised what the right aroma can do to activate your senses and metaphorically turn your world from black and white to living color.

Our treatment
Our aromatherapy enhancement is simple, but highly effective. You can add the enhancement at any time, even at the last minute. You’ll be offered a wide selection of essential oil blends to choose from. All our oils are naturally sourced. Some of the oils have been blended for a certain effect, or diluted for safety, but each is a natural product of real plants. There are no artificial fragrances added.

You may find that you have too many choices to pick in only a minute or two! Talk to your practitioner about the different aromas, their qualities, and what they’re good for. Also, this blog isn’t a bad start for learning more about what we have to offer.

Your therapist will begin your session as usual, but will have you lying face down. You’ll be prompted to take a deep breath while the therapist holds a small pool of the essential oil under your face. This gives you a powerful hit, and instantly helps you relax before your therapist has even begun working. In fact, your therapist will be able to go deeper in less time if deep tissue treatment is what you’re after.

The therapist then works the essential oil into your skin throughout the massage, allowing the aroma to interact with your body heat. This causes the aroma to linger over and around you, embracing your senses with comfort and a feeling of well-being.

In my personal experience, when I’ve had this done, I’ll be face down on the table with my eyes closed. I keep thinking the therapist is holding their hand under my face again, because the smell comes back to me, ebbing and flowing in waves. But they’re not! It’s interesting to observe the little tricks your senses can play on you.

Add aromatherapy to your next massage today!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire Tom to help you boost your brand or logo design, or manage your social media and content marketing needs by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

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5 Massage Red Flags: When to cancel your appointment or cut it short

5 Massage Red Flags

When looking for long-term massage therapy, it’s important to look for a massage therapist and a clinic that makes your health and wellness its top priority. Massage is technically a healthcare service, but it’s also on a gray line between therapeutic care and spa service. As such, not everyone is in it to take care of people. Some view it as a commodity to be sold, or have some other intention a million miles from caring for your health. These warning signs should help you avoid wasting your time and money with a therapist or a clinic that won’t meet your needs.

You don’t like your therapist
It’s a simple thing. It sounds petty, but it really isn’t. You need to have a good personal chemistry with your massage therapist. If you are coming in for a massage treatment as part of a healing regimen, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable consenting to be treated by your therapist! You want a practitioner who will see you for the whole person you are, regardless of how much or how little healing you need. You want that person to be able to freely offer you both their skill and their compassionate care. If you’re personally uncomfortable with them, that will come through, and your care will be compromised.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel your personalities mesh, or if you just feel uncomfortable with a therapist, it’s best move on or try to reschedule with someone else.

Not sure if your therapist is going to be a good fit for you? We’ve provided a whole series of blog posts and videos so you can get to know the therapists of The Good Life Massage a little better.

The hard sell
You know it when you see it: it might be a coolness in the way someone sees you. Maybe your brain is unconsciously picking up on some whiff of contempt or condescension from them. If you sense this when coming in for therapeutic massage, don’t hesitate for a moment to do something about it.

 

contempt-microexpression-750x481
See this look? If you catch that look on someone’s face, even for a moment while they’re interacting with you, watch yourself. Someone who has contempt for you will do you no good as friend, business partner, lover, or even as a massage therapist. Photo: davidwolfe.com

Massage chains are notorious for this. They offer you a low rate in their window signs, but this turns out to be an introductory rate, designed to get you in so they can sell you on an annual contract.

Now, to be fair, massage chains can be staffed with dedicated professionals. Most massage therapists get into the business to truly help and heal people, not just collect a paycheck. But the nature of the massage chain system tends to promote “salesy” behavior on the part of the therapists. Sure, they’re saying you need to come in for massage x times a month. But since you’re about to be pitched on an annual contract, committing you to so many massages a month, can you be sure they’re not just trying to meet a quota?

The truth is, chains aren’t really there to sell massage: they’re there to sell memberships. If all you want is a regular, but casual experience, it might be a good fit for you. We discussed chains in an earlier post, so check that out for more information to help you make a decision.

Chains aren’t the only culprits, however. Individual practitioners or clinics of all shapes and sizes can be more motivated by the bottom line than the wellness of their clients. Watch out for the hard sell, or any sign at all that they’re more concerned with getting to the wallet in your back pocket than getting to the knots in your back.

Um … is this a brothel or a massage clinic?
Unfortunately, massage has a reputation for being a euphemism for sexual services. Since prostitution is illegal in most states, many “massage parlors” aren’t licensed clinics, and are fronts offering anything but therapeutic treatment.

Do they take cash only? Do they not give you any intake paperwork to fill out the first time? Does the massage staff seem to be exclusively female and scantily clad? Are they open late into the night with a mostly male clientele? Not only should these things have you looking up someplace else to go, you might want to notify the police. Such places operate illegally, and are often involved with rape trafficking (also known as sex slavery or human trafficking).

And certainly, if a massage therapist touches your breasts or genitals, or makes unwanted romantic or sexual advances, you should leave immediately. This can sometimes happen, even in legitimate clinics, but you have the right to stop the session short. Call the police if you’ve been sexually assaulted.

You instantly feel worse when you walk in
Any massage therapist working hard to give their clients a good massage will be conscientious about making their clients feel thoroughly welcomed and safe. Is the place dirty or unkempt? Does it feel less-than-private or unsafe?

Keep in mind that the clinic doesn’t have to be in a posh neighborhood to be legitimate, staffed with skilled, caring therapists. But if you don’t see any effort on their part to make you feel welcome, how much care are they going to offer if you’re coming in for regular treatment and healing?

As you’ll see when you come in to The Good Life Massage, we’ve worked hard to create a peaceful, healing space for all our clients. Our clinic is ADA compliant, and all our rooms are completely private. Clients have told us they feel an overwhelming sense of safety at The Good Life Massage, and that’s no accident.

They don’t listen
Say you’re having your first session. You’ve told them before you started that you don’t want your feet worked because they’re too sensitive–but they work them anyway. Honest mistake, right? But what if they do it again? Or what if, for every request, they either ignore you or forget what you’ve asked for?

Move on. Your massage therapist should be fully present with you in the session, listening to your wants and needs, and should be willing to customize the session to suit you.

They aren’t present
Are they chronically late for appointments? Do you catch them texting or using their phone while they’re working on you? A good therapist will give you and your healing their full energy and attention. Don’t tolerate a caregiver who doesn’t care. We don’t at our clinic, and neither should you.

At The Good Life Massage, we have a diverse, caring staff that show up dressed like professionals, and will treat you professionally. What’s more, our emphasis is on healing and relaxation. We train our staff to give you compassionate care first and foremost. You won’t be hard-sold on anything. So when your therapist says you need x number of massages a month, you can trust that they truly believe that’s what would benefit your health.

If you need regular massage, but need a break on the price, we offer prepaid massage packages. If you buy 5 massages at once, you get a sixth one for free. It’s simple, there’s no contractual commitment, and no expiration date.

Book your next massage with us today!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to give your business a boost with brand and logo development, or with social media by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

What’s Your Hydration IQ?

What's Your Hydration IQ-

What do you know about staying hydrated? You might not know as much as you think.

 

1. True or False: It’s recommended that everyone should have at least 8 glasses of water every day.

 

False: This common benchmark is completely arbitrary. A number of factors go into how much water a person needs, including size, gender, activity level, age, and even weather conditions. The best rule of thumb is to drink when you’re thirsty, or when temperatures or activity levels increase.

 

2. True or False: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

 

True: Well, sort of anyway. It’s not as dire as you might think, though. Thirst is triggered by a 2-4% reduction in body fluid. Unless you have kidney problems, this is well within what your body can tolerate.

The kind of dehydration most people worry about, the kind with dizziness and fatigue, isn’t triggered until you’ve lost 5-8% of your body fluids. At that point, you passed thirsty long ago. In short, under normal conditions you can trust your body to tell you what it needs.

One caveat here: you do need to be aware of changes in your conditons. If you’re living your life in the climate you’re used to, doing the things you normally do, your thirst is pretty reliable. If those conditions change, either because you’re traveling, being much more active than usual, or find yourself in weather that’s much hotter than normal, you need to stay ahead of your thirst and be conscious of your hydration.

 

3. True or False: Staying hydrated can prevent heat stroke.

 

False: Hydration is just one factor in the on-set of heat stroke, but it isn’t the only factor. No doubt, water lowers your body temperature, but that doesn’t mean it will inoculate you from ever getting heat stroke. Again, listening to your body is important here, but don’t kid yourself that because you’re drinking enough fluids you can’t get heat stroke.

 

4. True or False: If your urine isn’t crystal clear, you’re dehydrated.

 

False: If your urine is crystal clear, that indicates that you’re more than fully hydrated, since everything you drink is just running right through you. It’s your body’s way of refusing delivery of whatever fluid you’re trying to put into it. Still, this isn’t a perfect system. Over-hydration is a real thing, and it’s very dangerous, though it’s not a major risk for most people.

If your urine is a particularly dark color or has a strong odor, that can be an indicator that you’re not drinking nearly enough.

 

5. True or False: Drinking water after a massage helps flush out the toxins released during the massage.

 

False: Water isn’t a magical elixer that flushes icky negativity or imaginary “toxins”, and neither is massage. You may have heard or read some massage therapists claiming that massage flushes toxins, but there’s no persuasive science behind the claim. Regular massage can accomplish many things, but this isn’t one of them.

Drinking water, however, does help your liver function more effectively, and improves your blood’s ability to flush waste from your system.

So why does your massage therapist tell you to drink lots of water after your session? Massage can dehydrate you slightly because it moves fluids from the soft tissues to your kidneys, which is why it’s not uncommon to need to use the bathroom after a session. That water needs to be replaced.

Also, loosening up tight muscles releases metabolic waste and brings circulation back to that area. It’s a good idea to give that healing circulation a little extra boost with a cool cup of water afterwards.

The best analogy for how staying hydrated helps your body function is like oil in a car–it helps everything run smoothly, including your body’s ability to dispose of waste and distribute nutrients.

 

6. True or False: Drinking coffee or soda is worse than drinking nothing at all because caffeine is a diuretic and it dehydrates you.

 

False: Yes, caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it causes an increase in the passing of urine. But at the doses you get in even highly caffeinated coffee or soda, you’re taking on far more water than the caffeine would cause you to lose. That said, sugary drinks, while hydrating, also include large numbers of empty calories, making simple water a preferable alternative.

 

7. True or False: Drinking water is the only reliable way to stay hydrated.

 

False: Of course, water is best. But it’s not the only source of hydration. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain water, and any other drink you may consume mainly consists of water, so these all factor into your hydration. Don’t count those out just because it’s not crystal clear nectar-of-the-gods flowing from a pure mountain spring.

 

8. True or False: Ice water is harder for your body to absorb, so cool or tepid water is the best way to hydrate.

 

True: Very warm or very cold water diverts your body’s heat and circulation to moderate the temperature. That said, you don’t need to be drinking body-temperature water. You want water at a temperature that will gently cool you, ideally around 50 -59 degrees, which is slightly cooler than most tap water.

So, how did you do? Did anything here surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

At The Good Life Massage, we’re committed to helping our clients build healthy habits for the best life possible through regular therapeutic massage. Book your next massage with us today.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with social media marketing and brand development by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

Massage Tools vs. The Human Touch

Massage Tools vs The Human Touch

You see them everywhere during the holidays. Back when Sky Mall was a thing, they were on every other page of that catalog. During Christmas time, they pop up on the store shelves like weeds: self-massage tools and gadgets. They could be mistaken for marital aids, props for a bad sci-fi show, or a toddler’s toy gone wrong.

But are they really any good? And how do they stack up to a massage from a human being?

The Good
You might be surprised to learn that we actually advocate the use of some of these tools from time to time, either on our clients or on ourselves. We even sell some of them in the clinic.

Massage tools can be a good way to help maintain the results your massage therapist worked so hard to get, or just to keep yourself going until you come back in for your regular massage. But make no mistake (and this really should go without saying):

No tool is a replacement for a human touch.

Having said that, the best tools are the simplest.

A jack with nobs? (sounds dirty, but it’s not)
It looks weird, but it does the job (Stop giggling! We don’t mean it that way). Jacknobber is one of the more popular brands of this type of tool, but the variations and options abound. Tools of this type are a great way to relieve your fingers, or to apply pressure where the elbows would be ideal, but the leverage you need is impossible for that particular area. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of massage tools. It gives you a number of simple choices, allowing you to customize the pressure to your liking and to the degree you find desirable. It’s also relatively inexpensive, coming in at around $5 – $10.

The major downside of this tool is that it’s hard to use on your own back and neck. It’s better used in the hands of a friend, loved one, or better yet, a professional massage therapist. It’s also difficult to apply the pressure you may need, just because your mind literally won’t permit you to inflict that level of discomfort or pain on yourself.

The Rolleo
We swear by this tool at The Good Life Massage, mostly because we use it ourselves, and proudly sell it in the clinic. It is made specifically for the arms, hands, and wrists–the parts that work the hardest for people like writers, musicians, nurses, or massage therapists.

It features an automatic spring-loaded compression, the intensity of which can be varied to your liking. Unlike the knob-style tools, the device applies the pressure for you. All you have to do is run your hands, wrists, and arms through the rollers. The convenience comes with a higher price, but it’s well worth it, especially if your livelihood depends on your arms and hands. This one’s available in the clinic for $44.95

Bear in mind: this one’s only good for hands and arms. It won’t do anything for your back, legs, or any other area of the body. But specialization has it’s advantages.

Cane tools
They look vaguely like something oldsters would use to get around on, but shorter. These cane-style tools give you the firm, rounded pressure points of the nob-style tools, but with better access to your own back. They typically have several knobs to work with, so they’re versatile in that way.

Again, it has a similar problem to the knob tools in the sense that you’re still applying the pressure yourself. The difference, though, is leverage. It’s a little easier to go deeper on your own muscles when you’re pulling instead of pushing, and it more easily reaches the places that most often have the most pain.

One possible complaint here is the form factor. Storage is a challenge. You can’t exactly just stick it in a drawer, but it does lie flat under a bed or in a closet. The price point is fair, ranging between $10 and $30.

Foam Rollers
We recommend these to clients all the time. It reaches where your arms can’t, and uses your body weight to supply the pressure. It’s particularly good for working out your back or legs. The one major disadvantage with this one is the learning curve. You have to get down on it and roll yourself on it in such a way that it works your problem areas. On the other hand, it really isn’t that difficult to figure out. Your massage therapist would be happy to coach you on the foam roller exercises best for your needs. The Internet also abounds with instructional videos and exercises to coach you through it.

We really can’t say enough good about this one. The human touch is best, but this is honestly the next best thing. We’re proud to offer foam rollers at the clinic for $15. The bulk of these make them tricky to display, so if you don’t see one when you come in, just ask.

Cryo Cups
Ever wish you could ice sore muscles without having to hold on to the ice? (Cue the infomercial-style black and white video of someone trying to ice themselves with a traditional ice pack, but acting like they’re in total agony because their fingers get cold. And then they drop it with hysterical levels of incompetence and buffoonery.)

Cryo Cups solve that problem. All you do is fill the cup with water, put it into the freezer, and let it turn into ice for a few hours. The removable sleeve holds the ice, which comes out in a perfect massage tool shape. The sleeve stays on firmly so you can apply as much pressure as you want without losing the ice or freezing your fingers off. We use these on clients in our ice treatments (free! All you have to do is ask.) and on ourselves. You can buy these at the clinic for just $10. Not only do you get the smooth, consistent pressure, you get the ice soothing inflammation.

So what can a pro do that these can’t?
Do not mistake any of these tools for a “do-it-yourself” solution for massage. A massage therapist does what no machine can do. With training and experience, massage therapists can exploit connections throughout the whole network of your muscles and connective tissues to give you lasting relief.

Fundamentally, a massage therapist can apply pressure at a level that might not be very comfortable in the moment, but which is necessary to provide the healing you need. You are literally incapable of inflicting this kind of discomfort on yourself in any productive way. Combine these abilities with compassion for our clients and intuition, and no machine or tool can measure up.

Book a massage with one of our outstanding massage professionals today.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him for your marketing, writing, and social media needs by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com