Massage . . . for Kids?!

Massage for kids

Can my kid get a massage?
Kids aren’t the first thing you think of when you think about massage and spa treatments. It’s true that we serve herbal tea, not soda, and cartoon characters aren’t typically an element of the decor. But can your kid get a massage? Absolutely.

Something for everyone
It’s tempting to feel like there’s something particularly adult about getting a massage. You disrobe (though not necessarily), and there’s a sense that the aches and pains of having a grown body are what massage was invented to relieve. But when you think about it, touch therapy is something that can be beneficial to everyone.

Touch has great physical benefits, aiding in circulation, easing muscle soreness or stiffness, and most of these benefits are associated with what happens when a body begins to get well used and worn out. But the muscles of children and youth need some TLC as well. Growing muscles may not have to put up with the same pain and strain, but kids play hard and sometimes sustain injuries and accidents. The therapeutic benefits are there for them as well.

The psychological benefits also can’t be ignored. As social beings, we’re wired to respond positively to touch. Healthy touch assures us that we’re going to survive because we’re surrounded by people who will care for us. Do kids need to feel that any less than adults do?

It’s never too early to learn
Touch therapy can also help kids establish a stronger sense of self-love as they get through their awkward growing years. You remember adolescence–the persistent feeling that there’s something abnormal about you, the discomfort with your own changing body’s size and shape. All of these can be mitigated with regular massage and touch therapy in a professional setting. Massage helps establish a stronger mind-body connection for kids and adults alike.

Having your child or adolescent get a massage also helps them see touch therapy as a positive part of a self-care routine, and to see that self-care is an important part of a person’s life. Sure, they’ll follow your example, but why not start them now in the habits that will help them lead the happiest, healthiest life possible?

Safety is our priority
While massage has so many of the same benefits to kids as to adults, we do have to take some special measures on our end to ensure they have a safe, positive experience. Every minor client must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The parent or guardian must be in the treatment room during the session. In fact, if you like, the session can be booked as a couples session with the parent on the other table! It takes a little more notice to arrange, this can be a great way to have a good experience with your child.

We will not perform massage on a minor without the signed consent of a parent or guardian. Our clinic policy is that, whenever possible, minor clients are treated by massage practitioner of the same gender.

Aside from this, we also try to go out of our way to make our youngest clients feel comfortable. We’re mindful of their vulnerability in this setting, and the nervousness they might be feeling. We take extra care to let them know that they have total control over their massage experience, just like any adult. We show them how they’ll be draped to protect their privacy, and talk through exactly what parts of their body will be touched and how. Young clients should know that there’s nothing about a massage that they should have to tolerate or endure. The client or their parent are free to terminate the session at any time.

Yes, children and youth getting massage is rare. But maybe it shouldn’t be.

Tom Gunn is a the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can reach him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

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The Wellness-Mindfulness Connection

The Wellness - Mindfulness Connection

How are you?

No, really, how are you? Do you really have the information to answer that question? Maybe this is a question you should be asking yourself more often. Anyone experienced in meditation will tell you–answering that question thoroughly can be the quest of a lifetime, and takes more effort than you might think.

We live in a distracted time, so much so that most of us have no idea how to be anything other than distracted–bouncing through our lives like a pinball from one obligation to the next, resorting to our mobile phones or some other bad habit when even the slightest boredom or discomfort threatens our equilibium.

Is this you? If so, what are you afraid of? What’s got you running to cheap thrills every time you feel uncomfortable?

This is how bad habits and addictive behaviors take root in our lives. Some experts think addiction and compulsiveness begin way back in the development of our brains. Inspired by this prospect, a kindergarten in Germany is experimenting with a classroom in which the children are given nothing at all to play with–a room with some simple furniture and some blankets and pillows. Teachers observe, but do not interfere. The children are given no direction in what to play or what to do.

Harsh, you might say, but it’s based on an addiction study which found that, for many, addictive behaviors began in early childhood. In many ways, toys do for kids what bad habits and addicting behaviors do for us: they thoroughly distract us from our bad feelings–at least for a time. The idea is to allow the children to come up with their own games–to give them a chance to find fun in themselves and in each other. The hope is that the children will develop key skills that will help them cope with the adult world–skills like empathy, critical and creative thinking, and above all, self care and healthy self regard.

Could you use a little more strength in any of these areas? (Is there anyone who couldn’t?)

Are you trying to kick a bad habit, lose weight, or just be happier with yourself generally?

Your journey begins with an understanding of how your brain really works as it does its best to keep you happy and breathing. You’ll need a sense of curiosity–adventure, even. Mindfulness isn’t as much a destination as it is a journey into the unknown.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

First, you should understand that your brain is wired to flee pain and seek pleasure. It’s not bad. This instinct helped our ancestors survive. For example, when you find good food–especially high-calorie food–your brain goes out of its way to remember what you ate, how good it was, and where you found it. It doesn’t care that the food is cheap and easy to get, that too much of it might kill you, or that it’s filled with additives that might harm your health. Survival is the priority.

From there, it’s not a big leap to go from satisfying hunger for the sake of survival to soothing other kinds of pain or discomfort. Before you know it, there’s no bad day that can’t be made a little better with pizza or a slice of chocolate cake. The same mechanism works for other kinds of bad habits or addictions. Your body receives a visceral, memorable payoff for engaging in the behavior, and eventually you’re going to it without even thinking.

And the grownup “toys”? They’re everywhere: cheap high calorie foods, social media, alcohol, gambling, narcotics, TV, pornography, and that’s just the beginning. It’s not to say that all these things are bad all the time–there’s nothing wrong with giving a child a toy once in a while. But these distractions, if mistaken for something essential to survival, can destroy your life.

So what’s the solution? Practice mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
When was the last time you ate a meal–and focused only on the food in front of you and maybe the company you’re keeping in that moment? That’s mindfulness.

Meditation is one method of developing mindfulness. The task in meditation–what makes it such a challenge for so many–is doing and thinking literally nothing. It’s tougher than it sounds. No sooner have you tried to clear your mind than a jingle for laundry detergent or a bill that needs to be paid soon comes flooding in to fill that void.

The trick is to observe yourself calmly and with a sense of curiosity. When mastered, you’ll be able to observe your body and mind working, holding your own consciousness at arm’s length for a moment.

While meditating, one way to gently dismiss thoughts is to picture yourself by a small stream with fallen leaves drifting by on the water. When an intrusive thought comes into your mind, pin that thought to one of the leaves and watch it drift away. When another thought inevitably intrudes, pin that thought on a leaf and watch it drift away.

Are you thinking “this is hokey and hippy-dippy and dumb”? Pin that thought to a leaf and watch it drift away. You can do this with sensory intrusions as well–that car alarm going off, the sound of the heat kicking on, your watch ticking, your phone buzzing at you–pin these to a leaf and watch them drift away. Set a timer and give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to practice this every day. This may feel like a waste of time; it’s anything but. It gets you ready to live in your skin for the rest of the day.

Out there in the trenches of your life, this exercise starts to pay off. You’ll find that when you get a phone notification while you’re driving, you won’t automatically have to check it. When you’ve had a rotten day at work and you suddenly crave cheese fries, you won’t automatically have to give in to it.

These occasions are opportunities to observe yourself, to be curious and collect data about how your body and mind react when a craving comes on. As you work at this, the more intense urge becomes not satisfying the craving, but curiosity about the craving to see what you can learn from it.

Even if you go for that dopamine hit, whatever form that takes for you, observe! You have an opportunity to watch your mind and body as you give in to a temptation. Pay attention to how those cheese fries really taste and how they make your body feel afterward. Ask yourself questions about whether that notification was really worth risking a car accident to check, and what you really got out of the experience. For extra credit, write down what you observe. Journaling adds an extra layer of self-awareness to the exercise which can help develop mindfulness even faster.

The ultimate payoff
Thinking in this way, over time, has a cumulative effect. Your brain is like a muscle. CAT scans of experienced practitioners of meditation show clearly that certain areas of their brains light up more than for the average person. Their ability to observe themselves has grown like a muscle after years of working out. It has an impact on their personality, and these individuals show lower incidence of compulsive behavior and addiction, better focus and concentration, and can better cope with stress.

While it’s true that meditation isn’t a one-and-done proposition, adopting it as a regular practice for even a short time can begin to show significant benefits. In this way, it’s a lot like massage: it feels great once or twice, and can have great benefits long-term, but you have to give it some time.

Honestly, this is just a toe-dip in a vast pool of what there is to know about meditation and mindfulness. There is so much to learn. What’s nice is that if you only want to take it so far, you can. This isn’t a panacea, and there are cautions to consider as you go forward, but just being more aware of your thoughts and your body’s needs is crucial to building more wellness into your lifestyle.

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 assist with your content marketing and social media by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage and Weight Loss: Fact vs. Fiction

Massage & Weight Loss

Let’s rip a bandage off right now: there’s no miracle cure for weight loss. Any doctor worth their salt will tell you the truth: to lose weight, there’s no real substitute for exercise and diet. This easy to say, much harder to do. Most people need a strong social support system, and must be willing to commit to long term change to achieve permanent results.

Now for some good news: Massage can play a key role in helping you achieve your weight loss goal.

No miracles, just healing
While some have tried to find in massage some kind of miracle weight-loss cure, massage isn’t that. Massage does nothing directly to burn fat or calories or reduce your waistline.

But massage can be a great supplemental treatment to give your efforts a vital boost to your brain chemisty and morale as your body transitions to a healthier way of living. Massage can help you transition your mindset from self-loathing and punishment to self-worth and healing, all while providing real physical benefits that accumulate over time.

True recovery
As a mode of touch therapy, massage has been shown to have measurable mental health benefits. Studies have shown that regular massage can help improve body image generally, and can be an effective treatment for depression.

It’s been well established by multiple studies that massage reduces cortisol levels–the stress hormone–and helps increase production of dopamine and norepenephrine–the hormones that give us a feeling of happiness and well being.

This really isn’t all that surprsing when you think about it. Humans have evolved to be connected, social creatures. We thrive on personal connection, and struggle in isolation. Touch gives a sense that we’re going to survive, that we’re not alone, and that we’re an individual with value.

And for many, sugary and fatty foods serve as a way to medicate against feelings of isolation and depression. These foods can trick your brain into wanting more by releasing those pleasurable hormones as you eat. Massage can be a healthy alternative to get that dopamine fix as you try to get your brain chemistry back to a healthy balance.

And when you consider the fact that retaining body fat has been linked to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, massage is a no-brainer for helping you lose weight.

Reward yourself
It’s key to your efforts to set up rewards for doing the hard work of behavioral change. The challenge is to find rewards for yourself that don’t involve food–a reward that could derail your efforts to change.

Massage is the ideal reward for making progress towards your goals. Let’s say, for instance, that you set a goal to work out three times a week for a month. If, at the end of that month, you’ve reached your goal, go ahead and book a massage for yourself! You might even consider a session enhancement or two. (Who knows? Maybe, for you, aromatherapy will become the sweet smell of success.)

Whether your weight loss goals are major or modest, regular massage therapy could mean the difference between success and failure.

If you’d like to get regular massage, but are concerned about the cost, a pre-paid package can save you 10% or more, and can help ensure you’re getting the care you need over time.

If you’re struggling with weight, The Good Life Massage would love to be on your team, both cheering you on and giving you a supportive push along the way.

Book a 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 marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can learn more about his freelance writing and editing work by contacting him at marketstediting@gmail.com

Do you know your rights as a massage client?

bill-of-rights

Whether you’re a veteran of the message therapy experience or a novice, you should fully understand everything you have the right to expect from your providers. We like to call this the client’s bill of rights. Whether you come to see us, or get your massage from elsewhere, these are all things you have the right to expect.

You have the right …

To receive treatment from a qualified massage practitioner licensed by the state. State licensing helps to ensure your safety, quality of service, and establishes legal and ethical accountability. All the practitioners at The Good Life Massage are licensed by the State of Washington. License numbers are published on our website for each therapist, and we can produce a copy of their licenses on demand.

To receive all the benefits of massage, understanding the scope of massage as a medical treatment. Massage therapy is not a cure-all. It is for general wellness purposes, and this includes relief from muscular tension or spasms, improved flexibility, promotion of circulation of the blood and lymph, and stress reduction.

To be touched only on the areas you specify, excluding genitals or breast tissue.

To receive treatment based on health care information you volunteer. We do not receive or keep complete medical records of our clients, so, with few exceptions, all the information we have about your health condition comes directly from you. This includes physical and mental health. Remember that communication is essential to a good massage experience.

To end the massage session at any time, for any reason. If anything about the session is causing you pain or makes you uncomfortable, you can stop it.

To have any and all treatments and modalities explained to you. If there’s something about your treatment you have questions about, you deserve answers to those in a way that you can understand. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.

To refuse any stroke, method, or modality used by your therapist. Every aspect of your treatment is meant to be completed only with your consent, and can be customized to your liking.

To be informed if your treatment is a part of any study or experimentation. You also have the right to refuse to participate in any experimentation or research. We don’t conduct any research in our clinic at this time, but if we did, we would do anything but keep it a secret.

To confidentiality and privacy. Our client list is kept confidential, and any personal or health care information you provide us is secure. Our record keeping practices are fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

To be treated fairly and humanely, regardless of nationality, sexual orientation, body type, disability, gender identity, race, religion, or political persuasion. The Good Life Massage is fully ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible. Our top priority is to create a healing space for our clients where they feel safe and welcome, regardless of any of these factors. In fact, some of you may have noticed some of our practitioners wearing safety pins on their uniforms. This is just another sign of that commitment to inclusiveness and fairness.

Do you have any questions about this list? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to comment on this post or social media. If you’d prefer to keep it private, our door is always open. You can contact us by phone or email with your questions.

425-243-7705
support@goodliferenton.com

Have you been in to see us, and enjoyed your experience? Please leave a review online, mentioning your practitioner by name. This helps other clients find the therapist most suited to them.

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 a freelance writer and social media manager. He is also the marketing director at The Good Life Massage. To hire him, or to see more of his work, please visit www.TGunnWriter.com, or follow him on Twitter, @elmanoroboto

4 Early Warning Signs You Need A Massage

4-warning-signs-that-its-time-for-a-massage

Is it time for a massage? Don’t answer so fast. Your body could be telling you, and you don’t even know it.

They say ignorance is bliss, but it can also be very expensive. That pain in your neck could become debilitating, preventing you from working and enjoying your life. Consider the cost of doing nothing, and you’ll see why it’s wiser to take care of yourself from the beginning.

Exhaustion
Are you getting to the end of a normal day feeling like you just did a 50 mile hike? Do you seem to fall asleep the moment you get comfortable? Your body may be working harder than it has to. This could be due to bad posture, poor sleeping habits, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, or all of the above.

Regular massage can help you feel like yourself again and boost your energy by improving circulation. Massage can also help correct poor posture, making it easier to rest and move your body more naturally.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, massage is one of the best treatments for that. A study by the Mayo clinic found that patients reported better sleep and lower fatigue than a control group. It really does help.

Loss of muscle control
For athletes and musicians, control is everything. Power and energy in using your muscles is important, but control is what turns that power into inspiring wins or beautiful music.

You may not be in pain, but if you’re noticing control errors in your playing, it might be time to schedule an appointment.

Pain that goes away–for a while
Headaches are the most common form of this, but pain can be your body’s way of sending you subtle and not-so-subtle messages. You may try temporary measures to find relief (aspirin, hot or cold packs), and you feel better…for a while. But if the pain keeps coming back, you’re not getting the message.

The message almost always has to do with self-care, but how to best interpret that message depends on the situation. If you just had a massage yesterday, you probably need to rest your body from the usual strain, and probably need additional treatment down the line anyway. But if it’s been some time since your last massage, and the pain keeps coming back, it might be a good time to schedule your next one.

Loss of emotional control
Your feelings are like lightning calculators, taking the input your brain receives and manifesting a tidy sum response to that input. What most people forget is that your feelings are responses–not just to what happens to you–but what’s happening inside you as well.

Pain can be like an annoying sound in the background–you may almost forget it’s there or how irritating it is–until, suddenly, it’s gone. Your body can develop a tolerance for it, a numbness. But your feelings and emotions aren’t so easily distracted.

Irritation in the body can come out as irritability with friends or with yourself. Are you feeling more sad for no apparent reason? Are your responses to things more dramatic than usual, in either a happy or sad/angry direction? Do you ever feel like you’re watching yourself react, but can’t stop the reaction?

Regular massage can help you stabilize your emotional responses by reducing the input your mind is receiving from within–quieting that noise of the body so you can respond to the stresses of life in a balanced and healthy way.

Do any or all of these describe you? Consider a massage. It really isn’t just a luxury, and you really don’t have to be rich to get it on a regular basis. And it could be a lot less expensive than trying to go without it.

When you come in, be open with your practitioner about what you’ve been going through and what you need. The more you tell them, the more effective the treatment will be.

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 a freelance writer and social media editor. He is also the editor of this blog and the marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can see more of his work or hire him at www.TGunnWriter.com

Are you afraid of getting a massage from a man? Why gender doesn’t matter in massage therapy

When you get right down to it, the gender of your practitioner really makes no effective difference.

While it’s true that there are some good reasons for objecting to getting a massage from a male practitioner, my hope in this post is to at least open your mind to the idea, and question whether your objection is really as big as you think.

-With my eyes closed quote

I was a little reluctant to get a massage from a male practitioner for the first time myself. I had only ever been worked on by female practitioners at GLM (we have only had female practitioners until recently). Then, a male intern came in and I got on the list for a free session. I think of myself as open-minded and willing to try things, so I didn’t outwardly flinch at the idea of getting a massage from a man.

But inwardly? Yeah, I admit it. I did flinch a little.

After I got on the table, I realized my reluctance was completely silly. It helped that the intern in question was highly skilled and is going to have a great career in massage someday. (What I got for free will one day cost hundreds of dollars, I am certain.)

As I felt his hands on me, I realized that it’s a lot like getting examined by a male physician. This intern was there to take care of my health: period, final. There was no other motive or intention behind his touch, and every move he made spoke to his high level of skill and professionalism. With my eyes closed, I couldn’t tell the gender of my practitioner, and I didn’t care.

Why?
So why is it that I was so hesitant? What held me back? And if you have a problem with getting a massage from a man, what’s holding you back?

There’s no denying that there’s an intimacy in massage that is matched by few other kinds of health treatment. You are being touched in places few people even see, let alone touch. The trust involved in letting a stranger work on your body is hard to over-state. But let’s put the brakes on a few false ideas right now:

Clinical massage is not sexual
While massage therapy has a reputation for being a sexual service in some circles, that is emphatically not the case at a clinic like The Good Life Massage. What we offer is a relaxing, healing service in a clinical setting. While it’s true that massage can be pleasurable, in no way is clinical massage intended to be an erotic experience.

We meet and exceed Washington state law regarding proper draping techniques. Further, our practitioners are expected to be completely professional. They will not initiate sexual touching of any kind, and will end a session immediately if sexual touch is initiated or requested by a client, either implicitly or explicitly. Any misconduct in this area is grounds for immediate termination and possible legal action.

We don’t discriminate, and neither should you
The Good Life Massage is an equal opportunity employer. We do everything possible to hire the very best practitioners we can find, and gender is never a factor in that decision. Period.

If you need a massage, don’t you just want the best possible care you can find? If you need your appendix out, are you going to balk if your surgeon is a certain gender?

After my massage with that intern–feeling like my entire back and core muscles had been effectively replaced with brand new ones–I felt a little bit silly for feeling that tug of reluctance at seeing a male practitioner.

In fact, I’ve been back many times to see our newest practitioner as of this posting, Charlie Fadness. Charlie is our first male practitioner, and I wish we could have brought him on sooner. I feel like a million bucks after every session with him.

But still …
If you still object to seeing a male practitioner, we completely understand. We don’t want to pressure our clients into doing anything they don’t want to do. But there are a few things you should take note of before coming in for the fist time.

State your preference
If you feel strongly that you prefer a male or female practitioner, let us know right away. We can keep that information on record so it never becomes an issue. If you’re booking over the phone, our front desk staff will try to make it clear with whom you’re having a massage, but we won’t bring the issue of gender up if you don’t. It’s on you to state your preference and ensure it’s being honored. Read your confirmation carefully and be sure to call us more than 24 hours prior to your appointment if you need to reschedule.

Book your next massage today.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and director of marketing for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at http://www.TGunnWriter.com or on Twitter @elmanoroboto

Feel Better Now! The Pros and Cons of 30 Minute Massage

Without question, the most popular massage we offer is the 60 minute Swedish massage. But sometimes our book gets full. (Okay, real talk: it’s full most of the time.)

And sometimes your busy schedule won’t allow for an hour session. Sometimes you’re just in pain and need work done in one specific area.

For that, we offer 30 minute massage sessions.

Book your a 30 minute massage today.

Pros
Less time! You might think an hour massage is just an hour of your time, but think again. New clients need to factor in time to complete paperwork, and everyone needs to factor in the unforeseen delay. There’s also the time getting undressed and then dressed, checking out, etc.

A half hour session can be a great way to get the work in that you need without the big commitment. (Bonus: since it’s a smaller unit of time, it’s actually a little easier to get in on short notice.)

Focus. When you go in for a half hour session, it’s understood that there’s only really time to treat one or two focus areas. Your practitioner won’t be worrying about making time to get in a full body massage. Their treatment is focused, and so is their attention.

Treatment. Got a terrible crick in your neck? Is there just one area where you have persistent pain that just needs to be rubbed out? A half hour session might be all you need. Keep in mind, though, that the more chronic the pain is, the more regular massage sessions it will take to heal the problem. You can’t expect to reach your fitness goals after just one workout, right? Massage can be the same way. Having said that, many clients report feeling better after just one focused treatment. Your mileage may vary.

Cons
It’s over already? If you’re looking for a relaxing experience as well as treatment, you might want to consider going with a longer session. A half hour usually isn’t enough time if your goal is to release the cares of the day and escape your stress for a while. Sixty minutes is enough to get that job done for most people, but have you tried a 90 minute or 120 minute session? That is relaxation.

Not the best value. Half hour sessions are proportionally more expensive than full-body sessions. It’s like buying a small soda: you’re not getting the best value for your money, but maybe that doesn’t matter to you as much as getting only the amount you want.

So, we leave it to your best judgment. If you don’t feel like you need the length of a regular session, or if you’re short on time, a half hour session might be the ideal way to feel better right now.

Book your 30 minute massage today.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at TGunnWriter.com