How Massage Can Benefit Digestion

How Massage Can Benefit Digestion

Massage has a whole range of benefits–so many in fact that a rapid-fire listicle just won’t do it justice. After three or four bullet points, the eyes glaze over and you say “Okay, I get it. Massage is good.”

But no, seriously: Massage. Is. Amazing.

We’re so committed to sharing our wonder at the benefits of massage that we want to dive deep over the course of several posts on this space to share those benefits with you.

Today we’re going to talk about a massage benefit most aren’t at all aware of. Massage can actually aid the functioning of your digestive system.

It’s not a cure for any serious illness as far as we know, but it does reduce symptoms and provides relief for debilitating and embarrassing digestive problems.

Keeps things moving
You don’t usually have to think about it, but digestion is complicated. The reason you don’t usually have to think about it is because it’s a part of the autonomic nervous system–that aspect of your nervous system that controls all the bodily functions you can’t control. When you get a massage, your massage therapist is moving blood and hormones, releasing tension in muscles, and warming and relaxing soft tissues. All this aids in the functioning of your autonomic nervous system. Think of it like an oil change for your car–it keeps things moving. This effect has a direct impact on your digestion, which is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The improved circulation helps with waste removal and the production of enzymes essential to digestion.

Keep your cookies
Did you know that massage can reduce nausea? It’s particularly beneficial for morning sickness in pregnant women. This works because massage relaxes the muscles over-all, and increases the flow of blood and hormones. All these have the added benefit of reducing nausea because the muscles of the stomach are more prone to relax. Massage has been clinically proven to help reduce stress and aid sleep for pregnant women, both of which help reduce nausea.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have a stomach flu, clinical massage is not the answer. In the short term, we’re likely to make you feel worse. If you feel sick on the day of your appointment, please give us a call and cancel immediately, for your own sake.

Clear your plumbing
Massage helps stimulate and facilitate peristalsis in the large intestines. Peristalsis is the odd, snakelike motions your digestive system goes through to move food and waste through your system.

Here’s an animation to show you how peristalsis works:

#GrossbutCool

What does this do for you, exactly? To put it delicately, it helps clean you out. When you live a relatively sedentary lifestyle as most of us do, the contents of your intestines can settle and gather, causing gas and colic. (And yes, that means that children and babies can benefit from some light massage just as much as adults.)

This increased peristalsis also helps prevent constipation.

Having stomach issues? Come see us and see what massage can do for you.

Book now.

425-243-7705

On a related note, if you regularly have muscle pain in your abdomen, we strongly suggest you learn more about our visceral manipulation massage. This is a specialty treatment of ours you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s worked wonders for our clients, including our own staff. Check it out.

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.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can contact him to help build your brand and develop your content marketing strategy by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

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How to Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

How To Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Anonymous

Holiday stress is coming! Are you clenching up inside? Stop! You’re not naive. This isn’t your first holiday season. You have a good idea of what stresses you’ll face, how your life will be disrupted. And yet so many of us talk about the coming holidays like it’s a natural disaster that couldn’t possibly have been predicted.

Why feed the drama? You’ve got this.

Get your priorities in order
You may have asked yourself, after a particularly harrowing holiday season “Why do I put myself through this?” It’s a valid question. Maybe the holidays hold great meaning for you. Or maybe you feel obligated because of family custom or social pressure. In either case, remember this: resentment is poison.

Whether you love the reason for the season because of family or religious commitments, or couldn’t care less, resenting the holidays will only punish you. It will sap your emotional stamina, and might even become the source of unnecessary family drama. We’re here to tell you that you have a choice now. You can just react to stress as it comes, or you can plan for it now and go into this stressful time of year prepared–and not only that, happy and ready to fully enjoy everything the holidays have to offer.

If you want no part of it, draw healthy boundaries for yourself and, without antagonism or anger, let your loved ones know you hope they have a great time, but that you have other plans. The worst thing you can do for yourself or others is to go into holiday events grudgingly or with a resentful attitude.

Plan for happy
Think ahead about the most busy times of the holiday season. There’s a list of things to do, events to attend, gifts and food to buy. It seems to go on and on. But why? Maybe it’s a good time to promise yourself to say “no” or “not this year” to a few things. Commit to bowing out of some things now before the social pressure is on; you’ll be surprised how easy it is to back out of some things you just don’t have room on your plate for. And as you go, remember: “no” is a complete sentence.

You can also plan to take care of yourself now! Scheduling your massages early and often is always a great idea, but especially during the holiday season. Our clinic gets busy this time of year just like any business, so seize this chance to grab the times you know fit into your schedule. Book online or give us a call: 425-243-7705. Set your reminders on your calendar. Then take a deep breath, and know that your self-care is one less thing to worry about squeezing in.

Maintain healthy habits
Now may not be the best time to pick up a new habit, even if your intentions are great. Your will power is limited, and there’s no sense in setting yourself up for failure during the holiday season.

By all means, though, maintain the good habits you’re already doing! If you already work out, get regular massage, do yoga, meditate, or eat healthy foods, it’s more important than ever to stick with it. Letting go of your good habits will throw off your equilibrium on days when you’ll need it more than ever.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to polish your “BUSY” badge of honor and go into the holidays proudly miserable? Or are you going to plan ahead and be thankful for whatever comes?

I know what I’m picking.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to build your brand through social media design and strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

What Is Mousing Shoulder?

What Is Mousing Shoulder

What is mousing shoulder?
If you spend a lot of time at a desk using a computer, you may already be familiar with mousing shoulder, even if you don’t know what to call it. Mousing shoulder results from using a mouse on a computer held away from your body for prolonged periods, repetitively. This strain results from your muscles having to tense to hold the weight of your arm as you hold it out away from you.

The pain that results radiates down from the neck and spreads to the upper back and shoulder. You might just feel a mild ache in these areas from time-to-time. You might feel an odd sense of weakness in these areas. Maybe you’re not thinking much of it–just routine aches and pains. But is it coming from only one side of your body–the side of the arm you use to manipulate your mouse? Remember that all your muscle groups are fully connected and effect each other. When one is over-worked, the others try to compensate. This is a miracle your body performs with zero effort on your part! But the corollary of that miracle is that when there’s trouble in one area, there’s often trouble in the others.

What should I do?
If you’re in pain, go ahead and address those symptoms. Treating this kind of pain involves a number of different solutions. Go ahead and try one, see how it goes, and employ different combinations to find out what works best for you.

Stretching
There are three key stretches you can do throughout your workday to mitigate mousing shoulder. The first is the doorway stretch, demonstrated here.

The second is the tricep/lat dorsi stretch.

The third is the deltoid stretch. Both of these two are demonstrated here:

Whenever you have occasion to get up from your desk, just take a moment and do all three. Ideally, you should do these for 2-3 seconds each, 10 times a day. Not only will these stretches help reduce the pain and strain, you’ll feel more relaxed and less tense over all. You might even see a bump in your productivity.

Massage
This is exactly the kind of pain that can be relieved and healed with therapeutic massage. Massage can stop the immediate pain, but you may need more than one treatment to completely heal. Your massage therapist will be able to evaluate your particular case and recommend the best course of treatment.

We’d be happy to help you with that! Book a session quickly and easily online now, or just give us a call during our regular operating hours.

Meds
If the pain is really that bad, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like Ibuprofen or Naproxen.

Not a cure
Where are you going? Not so fast! Stretching, pills, even massage can not cure this! These are only treatments for the pain. What you really need is to stop the repetitive motion and awkward posture that’s causing the problem. It’s time for a change.

No, don’t quit your job. There are several ways to take care of yourself and reduce the risk of mousing shoulder. The key to keep in mind is that holding your mouse out too far in front of you all day is what’s caused the problem. The solution, then is to change it up! Consider replacing your mouse with trackball or marble mouse that you can hold closer to your body. Less than 10° is ideal. You can also try switching to a wireless mouse to give you the freedom to change your position with it through the day. You might even want to try switching to your left hand for a little balance.

Exercise of your back, shoulders, and arms can also help considerably to strengthen those areas and make them more capable of handling the strain you’re putting on them each day.

Bottom line: repetition is the source of your pain with this. Do what you can to change it, or you’ll just keep treating the symptom forever.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your social media presence and develop your brand by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

Depression has been called the common cold of mental illness. Most people at least experience the symptoms of depression in some form or another throughout their lives. It’s so common, in fact, that many (unqualified) people dismiss the idea that it’s even a real ailment that needs treatment, let alone medication.

The facts aren’t kind to this dismissive attitude. Although it’s common, it’s a fact that depression can be fatal. It can lead the sufferer down a path of dark thoughts that seem inescapable, to the point that they might be willing to harm themselves, or sometimes others, to make the pain stop.

But what to do about it? The first stop for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from depression is their doctor. A general practitioner can determine whether medication is warranted, and refer you to a mental health professional who can assist with the many challenges of coping and recovery.

After all that is done, though, consider giving us a call.

Why massage?
One of the most common pieces of advice given out to people who have depression is to exercise more. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone that can trigger depression), and increases levels of dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter).

The problem, of course, is that because depression can cause lethargy and sap motivation, it’s extremely difficult for a severely depressed person to motivate themselves to get out and exercise, especially if exercise isn’t already an established habit. So, while studies have shown exercise to be extremely effective, there are huge obstacles for depression sufferers to overcome on their own.

Massage is an excellent answer to this perplexing problem, and here’s why. Massage provides many of the same blues-busting benefits of exercise, but without the need to motivate oneself to get up at the crack of dawn and go to a gym.

In fact, most massage clinics, and ours in particular, couldn’t be further from a gym-type atmosphere. The lighting is low and soft. The rooms are completely private. Everything is designed to suit your comfort. There’s no need to talk through your session–you can chit-chat as little or as much as you like. Our clinic is quiet, peaceful, and serene.

But what exactly does massage do that helps depression? Like exercise, massage increases dopamine levels. It also increases levels of serotonin–a key mood stabilizer. In short, it feels good! And you feel better afterwards.

Uncommon sense
We respond to human touch, whether in a clinical or a personal setting, in a primal way. We’re social creatures that need touch, so when you think about it, it isn’t really a big surprise that compassionate touch therapy can be so effective in stabilizing mood.

Book a massage today, and start feeling better.

Choose to live the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with building your brand and enlarging your digital footprint by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

How Heat Can Work Muscle Pain Miracles

How Heat Can Work Muscle Pain Miracles

Heat has long been understood to be a great way to ease muscle pain, but how exactly does that work?

To begin with, let’s understand how muscle pain and strain manifests itself.

As you work your muscles throughout the day, you’re putting them through stress. Even if your lifestyle is relatively sedentary, modern life is still hard on your muscles and soft tissues. Repetitive motion, bad posture, lack of exercise, over-exertion–all these can cause muscle tension that restricts blood and oxygen flow. As this happens–you guessed it–the muscles send pain signals to the brain.

The resulting pain can range widely–from mild discomfort to intense, crippling agony.

What heat can do
Adding heat to muscles and soft tissue dilates the blood vessels to increase circulation. This activates your body’s natural healing process, sending vital resources to the distressed area.

Intense heat also has the benefit of soothing and relaxing the surrounding muscles and tissues. You may feel an instant sense of ease and well being wash over you.

Stop! Don’t heat that!
Is the painful area red or swollen? Is the pain you’re feeling the result of some kind of trauma? You better use ice instead. In fact, applying heat can make things worse.

A treatment, not a cure
Heat has tremendous benefits in the short term, but it can’t fix anything permanently, especially if the tension you’re trying to relieve is due to repetitive motion or poor posture. You’ll want to treat the proverbial disease here, not the symptom.

If your muscle strain is due to repetitive motion due to work conditions, you can keep on treating the symptom, but you may need to change the circumstances of your work somehow. This might mean something as simple as an ergonomic appliance. It could also mean a change of jobs. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that not changing anything will take a toll on your body in the long term, no matter how much heat you apply or how often you receive massage.

As for posture, that is something that can be corrected. Mindfulness is key here. Strengthening your mind-body connection will make you more aware of the subtle pain signals your body is sending. You may find that your body is full of aggravating muscle tension you’re not even aware of.

You can work on this yourself, doing regular mindfulness check-ins to ensure you’re standing or sitting in a way that’s natural. You may find, though, that the plasticity of your muscles has been working against you. Your bad posture habits may have trained your muscles to hold themselves in the wrong shape, trapping you in poor posture that’s difficult to correct. Regular massage and a daily stretching regimen may be called for as you try to loosen your muscles and help them conform to a new, healthier posture.

Heat, a key component of massage
We use heat regularly as a tool in massage therapy, sometimes with simple friction on the skin to warm things up. But we may also employ hot towels to help relax particularly tense areas.

Did you know? Hot towels are a session enhancement that’s absolutely free. Just ask!

We also use hot stones as a specialty treatment or enhancement to help break down adhesions and deepen your relaxation.

Book your next massage today!

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.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and expand your digital presence by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Swim Into The Wave: How Hiding From Your Emotions Can Destroy You

Swim Into The Wave

For experienced ocean swimmers, waves are just part of the challenge. So it is with life. Waves of emotions can throw us for a loop disorient us, and confuse us before we even have time to process what we’re going through. Unfortunately, our cultural biases have taught us to handle our feelings in exactly the wrong way.

Quick fix
What do you do when you’re hungry? Grab a bite (whether it’s nutritious or not). What do you do when you have a headache or some other kind of pain? Pop a pill. The tendency to want to avoid pain and discomfort is not only understandable, it’s completely natural. But it’s not always the best way to handle things, particularly your feelings.

What’s the quick fix for bad feelings? Take your pick! Food. TV. Pornography. Alcohol. Drugs. Everyone seems to have a favorite. You may feel good temporarily, but put off your self care indefinitely and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Here there be dragons
Think you have total contol over your feelings? Think again. You can control how you respond to what you’re feeling to some extent. But the stronger the feeling is, the more difficult it is to control your response in a given moment. You may soon find that you’re repsonses to things are way out of proportion and make no sense. This is often because of emotional problems you’re refusing to address properly.

So, guess what happens when you try to ignore, cover-up, or otherwise run from what you’re feeling? It gets strong. Your feelings are like a monster that feeds on your resistance. The more you ignore it or deny it’s there, the bigger it gets.

It’s like the dragon in this excellent children’s story:

The more the child bought into the mom’s argument that the dragon didn’t exist, the bigger it got. Before long, it was carrying their whole lives away from them.

Keep going
Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” The only way out of an unpleasant feeling is through it. This is true for even serious emotional trauma and grief. Mental health professionals are trained in guiding their clients and patients through the process of feeling and re-living their trauma in the most vivid and detailed way possible. It’s not pleasant at all. But neither is surgery.

Even a massage, when used for treatment, can be very uncomfortable. There seems to be a principle at work that dictates that in order to overcome physical or emotional pain and to heal, one must feel it completely.

Ride into the wave, or risk drowning in it.

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

The Enemy Within – Hidden Muscle Tension That’s Making You Miserable

The Enemy Within

What is muscle rigidity?
Your body is a miraculous machine for coping with stress. But, like any machine, it occasionally manifests a bug–a bug that can turn into a serious problem.

When you face stress, your trusty allies, your muscles, contract and tense. They become rigid as your body prepares to fight or flee whatever stressor you’re facing. In this way, your body is trying to keep you alive. You may not be facing a threat to your life when a client or your boss yells at you, but your body doesn’t know the difference. When that stressor passes, your muscles are supposed to relax, because everything is fine.

But what if everything isn’t fine? Suppose, after being yelled at by a client, you start to drive home and almost get into an accident? Or find that you’re overdrawn in your bank account? Suddenly, your muscles are tensing up yet again. If this level of stress keeps up, your body will get the message to always be ready to defend itself, keeping your muscles rigid and tense. While many of your muscles may relax as the stressor passes, some of them may stay rigid in an effort to keep you alive.

This can happen whether the stress is unexpected, or if you intentionally inflict stress on your body through exercise.

Mindfulness
Suddenly the friendly muscles that have been trying to keep you alive have become your enemy. Not only are they not really helping you survive, they’re making everything worse. As the stress continues, more and more of your muscles become tense and rigid. This can develop into debilitating chronic pain. It can affect your posture and create a chain reaction of tension as your body twists itself into a knot trying to stay ready for whatever fresh hell you might be in for.

What’s even more insidious is that you may not even notice this happening until it manifests as a persistent pain. This rigidity and tension can build up in your body, filling your senses with a kind of tense “noise” you eventually stop noticing. After all, you’re too busy pleasing your boss, avoiding car accidents, and balancing the checkbook, right? The busyness of life can easily make you ignore the stress and tension that’s mounting in your body until it manifests as some pain or disease that won’t be ignored. Unless you do something about it.

Those of you who have received massages before may understand this from personal experience. As your massage therapist releases tension throughout your body, may help you discover mucles you didn’t even know were there. As rigid muscles are gently encouraged to become soft and smooth, little pains that have become like background noise are suddenly, blessedly silenced.

Book your next massage when you’re done reading this.

The cure
There are several ways to prevent a build up of muscle rigidity caused by stress. Our favorite, of course, is regular massage, but even that isn’t a complete solution. In any case, not everyone can afford regular massage (though it might not be as out-of-reach as you might think).

Mindfulness is key. Do things that will strengthen your mind-body connection. You can start with something as simple as turning off all distractions during your meals. The point is to help yourself become more aware of your body and what messages it’s sending you, to tune in enough so that you can detect persistent tension and small pain signals coming from your muscles and connective tissues.

Exercise, however moderate, can dramatically reduce muscle rigidity and tension. Yes, exercise can be stressful on your body. It’s supposed to be! Inflicting moderate stress on your joints, muscles, and heart in this way helps your body be more agile in coping with the every-day stressors and hassles that come your way. Remember, though, to consciously and deliberately relax your muscles after tensing them in that systematic way. Stretching is a great way to do this, but there are other methods you can do any time.

Progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation is a guided meditation practice that helps you turn your attention to each muscle group in turn, breathing deeply. Your guide talks you through putting each muscle group through a slight tension and then relaxation, literally from head to toe. Many of these exercises can be found for free on YouTube. There are several excellent recordings done by psychiatrists and other professionals available for sale at a very reasonable price. It usually only takes 10 to 30 minutes, and is well worth the effort. It’s almost as good as getting a massage, and can even be a great way to help you sleep better.

Massage, exercise, and progressive relaxation are the primary ways to cope with stress-induced muscle rigidity, but more important than these is to try to manage the amount of stress in your life. This might entail some dramatic lifestyle changes as you try to slow your pace and live your more deliberately and with a stronger mind-body connection. If you’ve recently experienced a series of dramatic or traumatic life events, the psychological component may also need to be addressed with the help of mental health professionals.

But why bother? You feel fine, right? Do you, though? Check in with your body regularly. What does it need? What do you feel from day to day? Nobody lives in bliss all the time, but you’re not supposed to be totally miserable all the time, either. Emotional pain, like physical pain, is sending you signals to make a change in order to help you survive. Listen to that, and take to heart some of the suggestions above.

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 and editor of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Note: stress is not the only cause of muscle rigidity. It can be a symptom of a number of diseases including Parkinson’s, tetanus, multiple sclerosis, and many more. This post refers only to muscle rigidity caused by stress. You may need to consult your doctor for chronic pain or stress that won’t go away through some of the means described in this post.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help develop your brand, logo, and content marketing strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com