Prenatal Massage: What The Expecting Can Expect

Being pregnant brings with it all kinds of changes and stresses on a woman’s body. At The Good Life Massage, we’re proud to offer prenatal massage. This specialized approach to massage gives pregnant women all the benefits of massage as they get ready for delivery.

We sat down with Michelle Green, LMT to talk about some of the differences between prenatal massage and regular massage. Prenatal clients are among our favorite clients to work with, but there are some things you should know before you come in for a prenatal session.

First, whether you’re a returning client or you’re new to The Good Life Massage, you need to inform your massage therapist if you are pregnant. As healthcare providers, this is something we need to know to keep both you and the baby safe, so please be sure to mention your pregnancy on your intake form. If you are pregnant, the front desk will give you an additional intake form with questions relating to your pregnancy. We understand that you may want to keep the news to yourself, and that’s understandable. But we really do need to know, and are bound by law to keep your medical information private.

How massage can help you cope until delivery day
Whether pregnant or not, regular massage therapy helps with a number of issues, including muscle soreness, posture issues, and chronic pain, as you might expect. But it has also been shown to help with depression, digestive issues, and sleep. All of these are things pregnant women could use extra help with, but there’s even more to it than that.

In Michelle’s experience, pregnant clients have particular needs that massage can most directly address. “Prenatal work can really help with a lot of those pregnancy aches and pains whether it’s low back and hip pain, to pain in the knees and feet. I’ve also come across a lot of women who have had some upper back and shoulder pain as they get a little bit farther along, and some of the massage techniques used can really help to relax those and kind of stretch things back out to keep you comfortable during the length of your pregnancy.”

Getting you comfortable
Baby bumps don’t fit on a massage table in the traditional way, and massage therapists need to adjust their modalities and techniques to accommodate pregnancy. This isn’t just a nice adjustment–it can be critical to the safety of the mother and unborn child.

“The massage therapist is going to take a little bit of extra time and care with the massage,” Michelle says. “They’re going to set the table up a bit differently, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, usually keeping you on your side and making you really comfortable with bolsters or pillows that we’ll put underneath the legs.

“We’ll give you a nice little pillow to snuggle with as well. It kinda helps to keep your spine and your shoulders as well as your low back in alignment to keep you comfortable while you’re on the table. And just like any other massage, you can undress down to whatever your comfort level is and really get a chance to relax.”

Your therapist may also use specially designed support cushions to allow you to lay face-down on the table as with a traditional massage. This is one of the reasons it’s important that we know about your pregnancy in advance of the session–so we can be sure we’re prepared with the necessary equipment on the day of your session.

The right massage at the right time
How and where you’re massaged depends on where you’re at with your pregnancy. Very early on, there are few noticeable differences in how we’ll work on you. “A massage therapist will do the majority of the work while you’re on your side. And this is for a little bit later into your pregnancy,” Michelle explains. “A lot of the times when you’re early on, you can still lay comfortably on your back so that some upper shoulder and back work can be done from that position as well.”

If you think you may need assistance getting on and off the table, our therapists would be happy to help. For this reason, you may feel more comfortable working with a female therapist, so please note that when you book your massage. While we are happy to accommodate any request regarding the gender of your therapist, you should know that all our therapists of any gender are well-trained and qualified to give our pregnant clients a safe, comfortable massage experience.

Can massage induce labor?
This myth seems to have legs, and it’s not hard to understand why. Who would want to give birth on a massage table? But massage professionals like Michelle know this just isn’t true. “You don’t really need to worry about early labor being induced during massage. The techniques that are used are very safe and won’t affect that at all.”

Pregnancy is difficult enough. Let us help you get through it. Book your prenatal massage now.

If you want to buy a massage for someone special in your life who might be expecting, you can purchase a gift card here in any amount you wish.

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

Michelle Green is a licensed massage therapist at The Good Life Massage. You can reach her at support@goodliferenton.com

Essential Gear for a Good Nights’ Sleep

 

As we struggle to take care of ourselves and not drown in stress, sleep is your life jacket. It lengthens your life long-term while improving creativity and brain function in the short term. On the flip side, doing without can have serious consequences and can’t be “caught up” on. We can’t always control our circumstances, but your bedroom is personal–yours–and with rare exception, entirely within your power to change. A few simple tools could make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.

Before your fill your bedroom with new gear, we strongly recommend getting rid of the junk. Relocate that TV, get that junk out from under your bed and either get rid of it or store it somewhere else. Chuck that practically-unused fitness equipment, fold your laundry and switch to body-weight exercises or join a gym. That room is made for two things: sleep, and … the other one (eh-hem). The more you focus the space to those purposes, the more it will serve you instead of the other way around.

Once you’ve cleared out the junk that’s holding you back from getting a good nights’ sleep, it’s time to select a few important things that can help you embrace a peaceful night of sleep, every night.

An alarm clock
No, your phone really isn’t good for this. Charge it somewhere else at night. The blue-white lights of the phone screen will activate chemicals in your brain that will actually stimulate you and keep you up. It’s also best to stick to clocks that have red or amber displays. Green and blue displays can have the same effect as your phone.

A white noise machine
White noise can help drown out drippy faucets, ticking clocks, creaking boards, a siren down the street, or other little sounds that might disrupt your sleep. We recommend a fan or a white noise machine that doesn’t generate the noise electronically, but electronic ones do have more options if you prefer to listen to rain or ocean wave noises as you drift off.

A medium firm pillow
Most of us think that the softer the pillow is, the better. Not so, according to sleep studies conducted in Germany. Pillows with medium firmness give you comfort along with adequate support. Sinking into a fluffy cloud every night may sound nice, but in practice it destabilizes your neck and disrupts your sleep.

An air conditioner
Did you know that there’s an optimal temperature for sleep? In the Pacific Northwest many find AC to be indispensable during the summer months, and it turns out that those people are on to something. Most experts agree that the ideal bedroom temperature is around 68 degrees–slightly cooler than usual room temperature. Keeping your room comfortable helps prevent you from waking, and makes it easier for you to go back to sleep if you do wake up.

A face mask
We offer face masks to our clients as a courtesy whenever sensory deprivation is desirable, but there’s no reason you can’t benefit from one at home. They’re inexpensive, comfortable, and prevent light from waking you up or decreasing the quality of your sleep. If you can’t handle having something on your face, at least invest in some opaque window shades so you have the option of shutting out light completely.

Experiment with these! Have fun with your new toys as you see how well they work.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage.

Good Morning, Good Life: How a few simple adjustments in your morning routine can change everything

good-morning-good-lifeIt’s already the end of the day. There’s so much more you wanted to do, but you’re burned out. There don’t seem to be enough hours to fit it all in. What’s worse is that when you try to name everything you’ve accomplished, the list seems pitifully short. What happened to all that time? Is something getting in your way? Why is it that some people seem to be lapping you in their success, and you feel like you’re practically standing still?

Something as deceptively simple as your morning routine could be making all the difference.

Okay, so you’re not a morning person. Some of us just aren’t wired to be at their best first thing in the AM. But that doesn’t mean you can negelect taking care of yourself in this crucial time of the day.

What makes the early morning so special and important for self care is that it’s the optimal time of day to accomplish things without emergencies coming up or people interrupting you. Why?

Because the people who normally cause those emergencies and interruptions are still asleep. You’re free! Wake up and smell the total freedom from all distraction! Savor it!

Do’s:
Rise early. Time is valuable! We’re not saying don’t sleep. But get to bed early enough that you’ll get enough sleep, even rising early. You’ll spend less of your day being burned out, and more of your day living life to its fullest.

Wake pleasantly. There’s nothing that says you have to put up with a grating, obnoxious alarm. Options abound in terms of alternative alarm methods, from the classic alarm-radio, to high-end sunlight systems simulate a sunrise right in your own bedroom. You can even wake up to the sounds of ocean waves or a babbling brook so that your waking process is gradual and soothing. Devices along these lines always come with some cost, but it can be a great investment. You’ll avoid sabotaging yourself with the snooze button, and waking up in the morning will become something you actually look forward to.

Exercise. This is a great time to get your workout in. You’ll start your day with the spring in your step that comes from being active, and you’ll arrive at work riding high on the endorphins. You can even expect to see an improvement in your mental performance and attention.

Eat breakfast (if you’re hungry!) Most important meal of the day, blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before. Some people, however, report that they just aren’t hungry in the morning, and that a meal first thing tends to drag them down through the day. Others feel like they just aren’t right until they’ve eaten. Listen to your body. Could you use that extra kick of energy? Then make the time for a bite of something. If you’re choking down a breakfast just because you’re “supposed to”, stop. Listen to your body.

Work on a personal project. Do you have hobbies or personal projects you’ve been meaning to work on, but never seem to have time for them? Morning can be the perfect time to work on a creative project or even build a little business on the side. Start the day with a feeling of accomplishment.

Don’ts:
Email. Please, please, please don’t check your email first thing. Whatever it is, it can wait. Really. Set a aside a block of time in your day to handle email and whatever tasks come with it, but don’t exceed that block of time. Whatever it is, save it until tomorrow if you can. If once a day isn’t enough, set an AM and a PM block in your schedule so you don’t miss anything urgent. Do more than this at your peril. Email is one of those things that can easily swallow up productive hours and sap your morale if you let it.

Be lazy. Save your r&r for the evening, when your energy and time has already been put to good use, and you’re ready to ease into a rest period. Morning laziness will just stunt your momentum going into the day. You don’t have to spring out of bed to do jumping jacks or push-ups (though that’s not a bad way to go), but get on something productive first thing. Author Virginia Woolf didn’t even come down for breakfast without writing 1,000 words.

george_charles_beresford_-_virginia_woolf_in_1902_-_restoration
Author Virginia Woolf didn’t even come down for breakfast without writing 1,000 words.

So get something done that’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be a top priority or something you dread, but get your mind and body prepped for a productive day with a little warm-up. By the time that simple task is finished, you’ll be more than ready to get on with the rest of your routine, all while looking forward to the other tasks ahead of you.

Use the snooze button. You want to wake up and have a positive, productive day, and your very first decision on that day is to … procrastinate? You’re sabotaging your whole day with your very first decision! On the other hand, you can ease into your day as pleasantly as possible. See Wake pleasantly above.

One change at a time
Whenever you’re trying to make a major improvement in your life, it’s important to pace yourself. You’ve probably experienced the frustration of springing from the gate on New Years Day or a birthday full of enthusiasm. We don’t recommend that you over-commit to big changes in your routine. Make it something simple. Do you tend to neglect breakfast? Consider adding that into your routine.

For example: need to do a workout? Hold off on joining that gym or buying piles of expensive equipment for the moment. Start with some body-weight exercises in the living room or a jog around the block.

Make just one of the changes above this week. See how it goes! Leave your results in the comments below.

If you have trouble sticking to your commitment, it’s a lot easier to get on top of one new habit instead of six all at once. You’ll be amazed at how much difference one or two changes can make in your day and in your success.

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

Warning: Do You Recognize These 5 Signs of Burnout?

Are you a hero, falling on your sword for the good of the people around you? Maybe it’s time to hang up your cape.

You may have this heroic narrative about yourself that feels satisfying in many ways, but that narrative might be slowly killing you each day as you try to live it. You could be

Depressed man working late at night
You could be burning yourself out and not even know it.

burning yourself out and not even know it. But if you learn how to listen to your body, you can learn to tell when it’s time to stop, to slow down, to change course.

 

Ignoring these signals could be perilous in the long term, and could cost you far more than a little rest.

“But vacations are expensive!”

Yes, but so is hypertension. So is heart disease. Letting stress overwhelm you in the long term reduces your productivity and puts you at risk for serious disease, and even death.

Burn-out is beyond the stress and hassles of a bad day. We all go through those sometimes. But how do you know if you’re headed for burnout? None of the things below should be a reason to declare red alert or panic, but two or more of these signs together could be a signal to make a change.

Changes in personality
Are you snapping at people? Are the people around you avoiding you because they don’t want their heads bitten off? Are you a normally extroverted person who’s suddenly staying home instead of going out with friends? If your personality is dramatically changing and the people around you are giving you that feedback, this might be a warning sign.

Emotional zilch
Your emotional responses may also be dulled or blunted. You may come off as being constantly distracted, as always having something heavy and pressing on your mind. Can you still share the joy of a special occasion or an accomplishment with someone you care about? If things are going badly for those around you, are you still able to listen with compassion, or are you too distracted to stay emotionally invested?

No sense of purpose
Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning because … well, what’s the point? Meaning is important. It keeps you going through stresses. Having something to fight for allows you to do, as Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” When burnout is on it’s way, or already here, you’re unable to keep going because nothing seems to matter.

This is the stage where you feel that no matter what you do, there’s just never any payoff, never any way to “win” at what you’re doing. When stress overcomes you, the things that would normally serve as a payoff in your daily efforts no longer seem to deliver the rewards you need to carry on. When you feel like this, every day feels like a bad day.

Flat tire
When was the last time you were “pumped”: excited to dig into getting some work done, to work on a personal project, to seize the day (or even just the weekend)? If it’s been a while, you could be well on your way to burnout, if you’re not there already.

The new normal: sick
Are you constantly getting colds or the flu? Are you at the point where feeling normal and healthy is the exception rather than the rule? Constant, on-going stress with no payoff can weaken your immune response. Getting sick, on its own, does not mean you’re on the road to burnout, but it could be a warning sign you should pay attention to.

Unstring your bow
The string of a bow is under constant stress, which is how it drives the arrow when loosed. All the bow’s power is in its elasticity. But if that elasticity is over-taxed over a long period of time, it will lose all it’s spring, no matter how strong the bow is. And for that matter, bows aren’t invincible. Sustained stress on a bow can cause it to crack and break. If you don’t unstring the bow from time to time, in order to preserve the bow and the string, all it’s power is threatened and will inevitably be lost. You’re a lot like a bow–good under stress, elastic (or resilient), but also prone to being over-taxed, even broken.

Silueta de arquero en puesta de sol
You’re a lot like a bow–good under stress, resilient, but also prone to being over-taxed, even broken.

Just how you unstring your bow will be covered in another post, but basically, you have to make relaxation a skill you’re actively cultivating and getting better at. In our busied, hurried society, it’s more important than ever to stop, let go, and even allow yourself to be bored from time to time.

In fact, we recommend you set aside an entire day each week devoted to resting and reconnecting with yourself and those people closest to you.

Regular therapeutic massage can also be a valuable tool in combating burnout and keeping your resiliency high.

You can book your next massage here, or give us a call at 425-243-7705.

Regular exercise, a good diet, and regular social interaction are some of the best tools in your self-care toolbox.

If you recognize yourself in any of the warning signs above, you might want to consider revisiting these fundamentals of self care.

Are You Guilty of One of These Four Deadly Posture Habits?

Good and bad posture

Whether you realize it or not, many of the little aches and pains you may be quietly enduring each day can be attributed to bad posture. Bad posture can also lead to increased headaches. Sometimes, in an attempt to compensate for bad posture, we over-correct and further damage our spines. Where is the balance?

Our spines have three natural curves that stretch from the top to the bottom of the back. The cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), and lumbar (lower back). Remembering to keep these three parts of your spine in a natural form will improve overall body health.

These are the most common bad posture habits we’ve seen in our clients. Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Weight-Shifting
Imagine yourself waiting in a check out line at a grocery store. Your feet are tired and you feel yourself shifting weight from one foot to the other. This is common. You may be distributing the weight of our body from one leg to the other to relieve pressure on our feet and ankles, but in fact you could be doing more harm than good. Center your weight evenly on our legs to provide greater stability. Other tips to improve your stance:

  • Relax your back and shoulders.
  • Keep your feet about waist width apart.
  • Pull in your abdominals.

2. Lazy Sitting
We often find sitting to be a much more relaxing alternative to standing, and sometimes let ourselves slack off when it comes to good posture while sitting. Slouching while sitting not only can hurt your posture in the long run, you also get more tired while working on your current task. While working sitting down, try to do the following:

  •  Sit in a chair that is firm enough and has a back support. It is preferable that the back goes up to the shoulders so your whole back can relax.
  • Sit as deeply as you can in the chair so that way your back is straightened against the back. This helps prevent slouching.
  • Keep both your feet flat on the floor.

3. Bad bed, bad!
If you take naps, make sure to take them on surfaces that aren’t too firm or too soft, and that your back is supported in a comfortable position. If you find your back hurting after waking up, that is probably a sign that you are not in a good position or that you are not sleeping on a good surface. Be sure to have a bed that supports your back enough but isn’t too firm. If your bed is too firm, it can cause extra pressure to be placed on small sections of your spine. A bed that’s too soft pulls the pressure on your spine inward as your body curls on itself unnaturally.

Yes, nice beds are expensive. But remember, we’re talking about something you’ll spend about half of your life on. Sure, get a great deal on that extra set for the guest room, but your bed is not something you should be going cheap on.

5. Your dad was right …
Lift with the legs, not the back! Your legs are much stronger than your back and are accustomed to carrying heavier loads. Another danger regarding heavier objects is having to constantly carry them. A backpack filled with books or a large laptop bag, over time, can cause hunched shoulders and back. If you must have your heavy load with you, consider carrying your things in a trolley bag or roller bag so that the ground is bearing most of the weight.

How do I fix this?
Next time you schedule a massage, talk to your massage therapist about your posture habits–how you sit, sleep, and move through your day. They can feel what’s really going on under your skin, and can make some recommendations to help you take better care of yourself. They’ll also be able to help work out some of the adhesions and tightness that have arisen as a result of your bad habits.

How A Little Salt Can Help You Sleep

Get the low-down on one of our most popular products. Peaceful Nights Bath Salts combine a rich blend of essential oils formulated to soothe your nerves and help you sleep.

Now through 10/31/2015, our handmade bath salts are $1 off! Stop in to get yours today.

Special thanks to former intern Byron Benson for writing the script for this video.

Tom Gunn is the Director of Marketing and blog editor for the The Good Life Massage. You can follow him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet.

Better Sleep Tonight – 5 Simple Tricks You Can Try Tonight

We often find that it’s worthwhile to give up something good for something even better. Sacrifice is a principle of life.

Too often, we apply this principle to our sleep.

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of consistent, uninterrupted sleep. And yet, when the going gets tough, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice in the name of making our lives work.

Unfortunately, sleeping isn’t something you can bank and use later, neither can you “catch up” on the weekend. Repeated nights of too few hours or of low quality sleep can result in long-term health risks including increased risk for heart disease, more rapid aging, impaired memory, emotional instability, and depression. Your ability to cope with stress diminishes with time.

Sleep Post - Pull Quote 1

Imagine the effects that can have on your life. How would your emotional instability effect your friends and family? How would the reduction in memory and creativity effect your working life? This is where regularly getting a good night’s sleep could mean literal money in the bank.

Do it right
1. Turn off the television and try to avoid all screens, including your phone, for an hour or so before bed. Limiting your media to relaxing music or books just before bed has been shown to help your brain more easily settle into the relaxed state necessary for a good deep sleep.

Watching screens have also been shown to suppress the production of melatonin, a key hormone in controlling your sleep and waking cycles.

2. Set a bed time … and stick to it! (No, you didn’t wander into a parenting post.) Try it! You’ll find that a little self-discipline can go a long way in this area. After all, being a healthy, well-balanced adult means being a good parent to yourself. It may be difficult at first, but sticking to the routine as much as possible ensures you get the time you need to rest. Making your circadian rhythm consistent results in better sleep over all.

3. Get regular massage. This one is obviously self-serving, but it also has the benefit of being true. What’s more, massage isn’t just for the rich anymore, and is more affordable than ever.

Massage has been shown to improve sleep in people of all ages, including children and seniors. This extra measure can be particularly helpful for those who suffer from chronic pain. Massage provides relief from the kind of pain that keeps you up, or at least tossing and turning.

4. Prepare the bedroom. It’s best to keep your room as dark as possible and relatively cool. Avoid using clock radios with bright displays or night lights.

Also, keep the television off and avoid working on your laptop in bed. The more you associate your bed and the bedroom with sleep or intimacy, the more it will feel like a sanctuary from the cares of the day, and the better your sleep will be.

5. Invest in a good bed, pillow, and linens. And we don’t use the word invest lightly here. The benefits of better sleep are strongly correlated with higher incomes and more prosperous lifestyle. You spend nearly half your life in bed! Make it count, and get the best mattress, pillow, and linens you can reasonably afford. This is one investment you can be certain will pay off down the road.

Just because your body seems to be on autopilot when it comes to sleep, you really shouldn’t have that mindset. Look at getting enough sleep as essential self care. The rewards are well worth it.

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 at The Good Life Massage. You can follow him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet.