Category Archives: complementary alternative medicine

Wolrd Massage Festival 2018

I just returned from the World Massage Festival 2018 in Las Vegas

WMF 2018 resized

I arrived on Monday afternoon for check in

As always ABMP was there with welcoming gifts for everyone.

There were vendors from the United States, Canada, and Triniadad.

The vendors hall featured products from Young Living, CBD products, Crystals, Far infrared Saunas, Biomat technology, The amazing Body Cushioning System, Acupuncture, Cranio Sacral and Cupping courses and products, as well as various representatives from several massage organizations.

Cryoderm was there displaying their newest product Magnesium Calming Cream, which became a favorite of the Oncology Massage Instructor Christine Courtney and she was pleased to use it in our class due to its soothing glide and texture.

Cryoderm is still my favorite go to topical analgesic so I am including a link to their site here for you: Cryoderm Products

I also had the pleasure of meeting with representative of the massage organization FSMTA which started as a Florida organization but has branched out nationally. I enjoyed listening to the work they have been doing in helping with protecting our industry from laws that may inhibit our practice or put an undo burden upon our industry and was very interested in their continuing education programs. I will definitely be taking a closer look into their organization and sharing it with others who may benefit from what they have to offer: https://www.fsmta.org/

Oh, I absolutely must mention my repeated trips to the vending hall to visit Cupping Canada! I purchased their Negative Ion Cupping set and then returned the next day to buy another set of soft silicone cups, I had to laugh when they apologized for needing to charge me for Nevada State Sales tax, gotta love Canada! They also had other products of interest, you really should check them out for yourself: https://cuppingcanada.com/

On Monday night we had our first ever “Parade of Flags”

Featuring flags from Trinidad/Tobago, Australia, Brasil, England, Canada, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic, Arizona, Arkansas, Calif, CO, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. Kansas , Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, PA, RI, SC, Tennessee, Texas,  Utah, Washington State, Wisconsin, and WV!

The Following day my feet were hurting so badly that I rushed back to the vending hall to purchase myself some insoles from VOXXLIFE of Ontario Canada: VOXXLIFE

The insoles provided instant relief from my sore feet and from the plantar fasciitis of my right foot, I was very impressed and it honestly made the long walks to and from the convention hall the rest of the week seem like a stroll through the park!

There were daily drawings for prizes, scholarships, and even cash giveaways at 12:30 in the vending hall every afternoon.

Classes Started on Tuesday!

I will admit that it is very difficult to choose a class for the World Massage Festivals because they have so many amazing instructors and modalities to choose from!

This year due to the many people I know whos lives have been touched by cancer I chose to take Oncology Massage as my main focus.

Christine Courtney, the instructor, is a world acclaimed instructor and practitioner of Holistic Therapies who teaches world wide and is the owner of OBUS School of Healing Therapies in Ireland: http://obus.ie/

For the two day class we were instructed on contraindications, areas to avoid, the effects of radiation and chemotherapy on the body, and the care and treatment of cancer patients and survivors of cancer.

Christine also taught us a soothing reflexology treatment that her students us in her clinic in Ireland that stimulates the vagus nerve, pituitary gland, and heart chakra.

oncology cert resized

 

Thursday was our last day of classes

For my last day of the classes I decided to take Russian Sports Massage Pre and Post Event with Olge Bouimer, Director of Advanced Studies at Southern California Health Institute: http://www.owellnessglobal.com/

Russian Sports Massage has been something that I have been curious about for many years now and I was pleased to see this class being offered this year! The reason Russian Sports Massage caught my attention is because it utilizes not only the various basics we were taught in school such tapotement and petrissage but it also incorporates vibration techniques which can travel deeper into muscle tissue.

Olge brings some humor, personal experience and stories from his experience as an athlete, and some scientific approaches to the nervous system and the different effects massage and specifically sports massage can have on the body.

The class was fast paced, fun, and gave us many new tricks to add to our daily routines as well as instructing us on the different uses for various strokes and modalities for pre vs post event massages.

The link above contains his many amazing instructional DVDs available for purchase as well as a schedule of classes that he teaches.

russian sports cert resized

Thursday evening I finally stepped out of the Hotel to explore Vegas!

My massage partner and I went on a brief but exciting venture into Vegas.

We went to the Stratosphere first

stratosphere

I had a margarita in the bar and was blown away by the city lights before us, pictures cannot do it justice!

vegas city lights

We then went to the observation deck and saw the city below us, the winds were intense so we decided it was best to return safely inside.

We then went to the Bellagio just in time for the final Fountain Show featuring the Star Spangled Banner.

Bellagio Fountains

It was a beautiful ending to a long fun filled week at the World Massage Festival in Vegas!

Check out next years festival!

Next Years class schedule is already posted, classes fill up fast!

World Massage Festival in North Carolina 2018 http://worldmassagefestival.com/2019/

 

Yours in Health and Wellness

Kristeen Smart Kish CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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How To Get The Perfect Massage

Getting the perfect massage begins with communication

A good establishment will want to put the client with the right therapist. Every client has different needs and expectations and every therapist has a different specialty or approach to their massage style.

The receptionists get a lot of feed back from the clients and are happy to recommend the therapist who may be the best fit for you based on the information that you provide them about what you are seeking in your session.

Let them know if there are things you prefer, such as Deep Tissue, Stretching, Trigger Point Therapy, or a Gentle Relaxing Swedish Massage, or anywhere in between.

If you had a favorite therapist who has left the establishment or moved away feel free to ask if there is another therapist with a similar style.

The staff wants you to have the best possible experience and will do their best to match you with the therapist who’s skills seem closest to what you are seeking in a massage therapy session.

When you meet your therapist

Usually the Massage therapist will ask you a few questions before the session, I usually ask if there are any areas that you want to focus on and what type of pressure you usually prefer.

This is a good time to briefly explain any areas that have been bothering you, areas to avoid such as face and scalp, and any areas that you particularly enjoy having extra focus on such as the feet or head and scalp.

It is also a good time to discuss any injuries, surgeries, or areas of muscle tension or concerns.

Feel free to ask questions, also if you prefer no talking during the session let your therapist know that and they will try to keep the session as quiet as possible other than to check in with you about the pressure.

Sometimes we find something that we want to discuss with you such as ways to minimize the discomfort or some self help tips that you can do at home, but we can discuss our findings with you at the end of the session if you would prefer not to be disturbed during the session.

Many clients enjoy learning ways that they can manage their own areas of concern and we are always happy to give you after care and home care suggestions.

Some complaints that I sometimes see in online reviews:

  1. “The Therapist didn’t massage my face”
  2. “The massage was too hard and painful”
  3. “Therapist was too chatty”
  4. “Not enough time spent on my problem areas”
  5. “I wasn’t offered a robe or hair tie”
  6. “I asked for LIGHT pressure not therapeutic massage”
  7. “Paid for two hours and only got an hour and forty minutes”

The above quotes are a few of the more common complaints that I see in online reviews of various establishments.

I looked at reviews from several local spas both high end and chain establishments to find some examples where communication seems to be the biggest problem, so lets go through these individually….

  1. Client expected that all massage sessions include face massage. Personally I usually do not do face massage unless it is requested because not everyone likes or wants their face massaged. Some do not want the oils or lotions to clog their pores, or they have make up on, or simply do not want their face touched. If face or scalp is something you enjoy and expect in your session be sure to mention it to the therapist, your therapist will be happy to add that to your individual session.
  2. The massage being too hard and painful, first of all you do NOT have to grin and bear it, if it is too painful tell your therapist, if the therapist continues despite your wishes it is your right to end the session. You are always in control of your massage session.
  3. The “chatty” therapist, this one is more complicated because there are several different scenarios: The therapist may be sensing that you are uncomfortable and trying to engage in small talk because he or she is trying to put you at ease. The therapist is asking questions such as “What do you do for a living?” or “Do you work out?” to better understand your muscular condition to give you the best treatment and advice for after care. Or the therapist is simply friendly and outgoing and does not seem to understand that you simply want a nice quiet session. Communication in this case begins with saying “Can we discuss this after the session?” or “I just want quiet during my massage thank you.
  4. Not enough time spent on area of focus. Again this could be for a number of reasons such as the therapist has found that other areas are effecting the area of focus, such as muscles of the opposing side pulling on that area. Not enough time for everything, an example of this is the client who’s areas of focus are “stiff neck, tight shoulders, sciatic down right leg, tight hamstrings and calves.” That’s an entire laundry list of things to try and adequately effect in a short period of time. The communicative solution to this would be to focus on the main areas and skip the full body or certain parts such as arms and feet, however, if you feel that your therapist is simply not listening to you then bring this to the attention of the reception staff, they  will be more than happy to accommodate you and suggest a therapist who is more suited to your needs.
  5. Was not offered a robe or a hair tie, I assume when I see such things in reviews that the person writing the review is used to high end spas where you wear a robe because you will be leaving from one area to another before and after your session, in a day spa setting that is only done when you are going to be having dual services in different rooms that day, otherwise you will be alone in a private room where you can dress and undress in private, a robe is not necessary in such settings. The hair tie, yes high end spas usually have those and sometimes in day spas the therapist will provide them as well, but it is often best if you bring you own, but if you forgot to bring one we can always place a towel over your hair to protect it from the oils and lotions.
  6. Asked for LIGHT pressure but got therapeutic, the main problem here is that light, medium, and deep are all very subjective words. One persons idea of light is another persons idea of medium or firm. As for therapeutic, all massage is therapeutic in some way, that being said some therapists (myself included) cannot always control what your body is telling our hands to do and the impulse to give you what you need. It is best to speak up and remind the therapist that you asked for a light pressure and simply want to relax, I had a client who once said to me “I know I have knots but today I want you to ignore them and just pamper me.” I think that’s the best way to respond when you feel that your therapist is getting too focused on problem areas.
  7. THIS is the biggest complaint that I see, this is a miscommunication that is typical in most spa settings “I paid for an hour and only got 50 minutes.” “I was shorted 10 minutes on my massage.” “I paid for two hours and only got an hour and forty minutes.“In a typical spa setting both high end and day spa its is common that an hour session is 50 minutes hands on and 5 minutes before and after for you to dress and undress as well as the brief intake in the room. The two hour sessions can vary from establishment to establishment, in the case of the one I quoted above some of these spas bill a two hour as two fifty minute sessions making your session a 100 minute session, some places are careful to call it what it really is a 100 minute session, a 50 minute session or an 80 minute session. This miscommunication in my opinion falls squarely on the establishment for not being clear to the client about the real time length of the massage. These times are set in respect to time billed as well as to give the therapist time to clean and change the room over for the next client.

The Key to the Perfect Massage is Communication

From the moment that you set up your appointment to the moment you check out the key to the perfect massage is communication to get the therapist that is the best fit for your needs and the massage session that you prefer.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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Your Massage Session, What to Expect

  1. Arrive early to fill out intake paperwork if this is your first visit. Intake paperwork may include a full medical history.
  2. Please call if you are going to be late or not able to make it as soon as possible. Make sure you are aware of the cancellation policy, many places request you call a day ahead of time if you cannot make it to avoid cancellation fees.
  3. Silence your phone when you arrive. The session is your time away from everything, we do not want that interrupted from outside forces.
  4. Let your therapist know about any conditions you may have that could be adversely effected by massage, such as bruising easily, past surgeries and injuries, pregnancy, osteoporosis, or high blood pressure.
  5. If you need special assistance such as help getting on or off of the table please discuss this with your therapist at the start of the session, we are more than happy to accommodate your needs.
  6. Do let us know if there are any areas of concern to be focused on or if there are areas you do or do not want massaged (IE: you love or hate scalp massage.)
  7. Please wait until we leave the room to disrobe.
  8. Let us know if you need any accommodations such as a pillow or breast cushion.
  9. Dress down to your level of comfort unless instructed to leave clothing on. Some therapists may request that you leave your underwear on while others may do massages fully clothed.
  10. Get between the sheets, not on top of them, and cover your body before your therapist returns.
  11. If you wish to talk during the session please keep your voice down so as not to disturb others in adjacent rooms.
  12. If you wish for no talking during the session tell the therapist at the beginning, let them know you just want to relax undisturbed and that any suggestions can be discussed at the end of the session.
  13. Feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much or too little, you are in control of your massage.
  14. Relax and enjoy your session, if you fall asleep that is fine, if you snore we don’t mind at all.
  15. If at any point in the massage you feel uncomfortable for any reason you can end the session. If your therapist has made you feel uncomfortable do bring this to the attention of the management right away.
  16. At the end of the session please wait until the therapist has left the room to get off of the table and get dressed.
  17. Be careful when first getting off of the table as people sometimes feel light headed following a massage.
  18. Your therapist may offer your some fresh water and after care instructions when you come out of the room. Those instructions may include some stretches or suggestions for heat or ice following the massage as well as suggestions for future sessions to meet your needs.

Considerations for your therapist:

  1. Arrive clean and ready for a massage.
  2. Avoid wearing heavy perfumes.
  3. If you have athletes foot or other contagious conditions please let your therapist know so they can avoid that area during the massage. Foot massage can be done through the sheet if needed.
  4. Please find a baby sitter for your children, the massage rooms are small and as much as we adore your children they can get in the way while we are trying to massage you.
  5. Please do not ask your therapist for services that are out of their scope of practice such as chiropractic adjustments.
  6. If you are sick please reschedule your appointment.

Communication is key to getting the massage experience that you are seeking.

When you communicate with the therapist before and even during the session as to pressure and preference you can get the prefect massage tailored to your individual needs.

Enjoy your service!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

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When in Doubt Refer Them Out

At the college that I attended it was impressed upon us not to be afraid to refer a client to a doctor.

We are not allowed to diagnose, even if we know exactly what it is we are seeing it is out of our scope of practice to tell them what we suspect, but we are well within our scope to suggest or even encourage them to see a doctor or specialist.

Years ago I had a co-worker who told me she would never refer or suggest that someone should see a doctor

She did not believe that referring clients to a doctor is our responsibility as Massage Therapists, I said to her “but we are in a unique position to see areas of their body that they cannot see and conditions they may not be aware they have.” We have a responsibility to our clients to make them aware when something needs to be addressed by a doctor.

Depending on the situation or condition I might say something to the effect of  “you should have a dermatologist check this out” or “it might not be a bad idea to have a doctor take a look at that.”  They may ask you what you suspect or why you have made that suggestion, be careful not to cross the line into diagnosis, try not to sound alarming while at the same time let them know that it is a good idea to have it looked at to rule out any issues.

If it is something so concerning that you do not feel comfortable massaging the area or continuing the session then explain to them that you do not feel comfortable working on that area until it has been seen by a doctor, this could be anything from a suspicious rash to a suspected muscle tear or injury. You are well within your scope of practice to refuse to treat any area that you believe may cause further damage or injury to the client.

What if it ends up being nothing serious?

Well great! Both you and your client will feel better knowing that it was nothing serious, but what if you said nothing and it was?

The other night a client that I last saw a few months ago came in for a massage and said to me:
“I wanted to thank you, you saved me!” he said “You suggested I should see a dermatologist, and you saved me, it was stage one aggressive malignant melanoma”

They were able to diagnose and remove the cancer before it had a chance to spread and he is now being monitored regularly to make sure that it does not return.

This was not the first time someone thanked me for suggesting they should see their doctor or specialist, but it is the one that will forever reinforce my position on referring clients to a doctor or specialist.

We are in a unique position to help others

That is what we do, it is who we are! Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel that your client should see a doctor, if you are wrong then you both gain peace of mind, and if you are correct you might just save a life!

 

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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Massage Tools and Liability Insurance

A cautionary post for fellow Massage Therapists and Student

I research things as I become curious about certain subjects, one of my recent curiosities was about a product which got me searching for more information on tools and liability insurance because I know that not all tools are covered by all liability companies and I usually search mine to find out what is excluded, but new products raise the question of what actually is included.

Personally my advice to anyone using any tools or exotic modalities would be to contact your liability insurance and ask about coverage just to make sure. I know that some insurance companies do not cover hot stones while others do not cover cupping, and many insurance companies strictly exclude T-bar use.

In my opinion we need to be diligent in making sure that what we utilize in our practice is covered. That being said I did find this post and thought to share it with you.

https://www.ctha.com/Forums/?b=21206

Massage Tools and Insurance

Hi Everybody!

Do you use any supplemental tools when massaging and do your insurers know this? If so, what are their requirements for insuring you to use that tool: an accredited course, confirmation of reading all the instructional material, paying an extra ‘tool-use’ supplment or something else?

I have been asked to write an article about this relevant topic as an ‘expert’ on massage tools (I designed and sell a massage tool called ‘The Kneader’ for both general public and professional therapist use).

Recently, I gave a workshop on our new venture, which is Kneader On-Site Massage. Only Level 3 on-site therapists attended, as it was to gauge if they liked On-Site Massage with the Kneader as much as we do. Thankfully, they did and they all bought 1-2 Kneaders in preparation for our Kneader On-site Massage course, which is hopefully going to be this summer.

One of the therapists contacted her insurers at CThA to make sure she was covered to use the Kneader, in the meantime, as a supplemental tool. They said she was not insured until she took an accredited course on how to use the Kneader (again, even as a supplemental tool during a standard massage treatment). This was not good news as lots of therapists have been buying and using the Kneader as a supplemental tool for several years now! What ensued was nearly two months of deliberation on the Kneader – my argument being that the product comes with a comprehensive manual and DVD and there are loads of clips and instructional material on our website and YouTube.

Thankfully, the CThA insurers have been very thorough and accommodating and have now confirmed that all their therapists are insured to use the Kneader as long as they have reviewed the manual and DVD and use the tool in accordance with the product’s instructional material. It’s a start but this is only one insurer of many and they are all of the same view (I’ve checked around) – if you use a tool (any tool), you need to take an accredited course in it to be insured when using it. I have queried about ‘one move’ tools like Bongers, The Knobbler and Omni Ball – if a tool only does one thing, how can you warrant doing a course in it? Massage tool use is on the rise in the industry, because therapists are always looking at ways to improve their treatments and their working lives. Subsequently, how many therapists are using tools to save their hands or enhance their treatments without realising that they are not ensured to do so? It’s a question that I fear a lot of therapists have not even considered and run the risk (however small) of being caught out on.

I would be grateful for any input and will post the article once it is published for your consideration.

In the meantime, all the very best!

Una
Kneads Must

We love to provide our clients with the best that we can offer them but we also need to always remember to protect not only our clients but our practice as well by making sure that our insurance coverage meets our needs when it comes to our services and products.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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Cortisol, the “Evil” Stress Hormone

Cortisol and weight gain:

The other night I was having a conversation with a client who is struggling to lose weight and she stated that her cortisol levels are too high. This is a common problem for many of us.

As she and I were talking I realized that cortisol has its benefits

I got to thinking about why our cortisol rises, situations in which we might need what that hormone has to offer us. What is it about stress that would cause this need for a hormone that stores fat and keeps us awake at night? SURVIVAL!

I laughed and said to my client “Skinny people do not make it on Survivor” she laughed and agreed, yes that fat storage has its place in times of great physical stress such as famine, drought, and threat to our psychical survival.

Why does our body react to emotional stress the same way it would physical danger?

Our bodies cannot distinguish between a physical threat of harm and an emotional one, to the body it is all the same, your mind perceives ALL STRESS as if you are in danger and must prepare to survive, it really is that simple.

Lets take a look at the Pros and Cons of this “evil” hormone:

The following article has a lot of information on cortisol and its physical effects on the body http://www.fitness4her.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-cortisol-the-key-to-fighting-belly-fight/

Cortisol is a hormone in the body that is secreted by the adrenal glands and provides for the following functions:

  • Proper glucose metabolism

  • Regulation of blood pressure

  • Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance

  • Immune function

  • Inflammatory response

  • A quick burst of energy in times of fight or flight.

  • Heightened memory functions.

  • Boosts the immune system.

  • Lowers sensitivity to pain.

  • Helps to maintain homeostasis in the body.

Often referred to as the stress hormone because of the high levels of cortisol released in the bloodstream when the body is enduring a great amount of stress, too much cortisol can cause problems with your health such as:

  • Increased belly fat which is associated with a greater amount of health problems.

  • Impaired cognitive performance.

  • Suppressed thyroid function.

  • Blood sugar imbalances like hyperglycemia.

  • Decreased bone density.

  • Decreased muscle tissue.

  • High blood pressure.

  • A lowered immune system.

  • Higher levels of cholesterol.

In the first list you will see that it helps to maintain homeostasis, regulates blood sugar, improves immune response and other things that are beneficial to survival. The second list are the unfortunate side effects of cortisol when it is not needed for survival.

So how do we minimize cortisol resulting from stress?

The article goes on to describe several ways to help minimize the negative effects of cortisol:

The key to keeping cortisol production at a healthy level is relaxation.  As a matter of fact, proper rest is vital to the body’s well being. Getting 8 hours of sleep rather than 6 can mean a reduction in cortisol of up to 50%. Other ways of reducing cortisol are:

  1. Meditation and prayer can cut cortisol by as much as 20%.

  2. Listen to some of your favorite music to cut cortisol by nearly 65%. Fill your iPod with some new tunes and take a walk to lower stress and reduce belly fat.

  3. Sip black tea. As it turns out, enjoying an afternoon tea has many health benefits such as reducing cortisol by about 45%.

  4. Attend church or other religious service and reduce cortisol by 25%.

  5. Do something nice for someone to reduce cortisol levels by 20%.

  6. Go for a massage. Let a professional work out the kinks of built up stress and stiffening of the muscles. It can reduce cortisol levels by 30%.

  7. Hang out with a fun loving friend. Someone you can laugh with and enjoy your time with, you’ll reduce cortisol by up to 39%.

  8. Have a romp in the bed with your lover. Increased stress and cortisol can boost your sex drive, so why not take advantage and enjoy some love-making, you’ll reduce stress and cortisol levels, while burning about 70 calories in about 30 minutes.

  9. Exercise regularly. By maintaining your exercise program, you’ll regulate cortisol levels and reduce stress and help to lower blood pressure.

  10. Put stress in its place. Life’s challenges are sure to follow us but we can take charge of how we handle them and not let them control us. Enjoy life and preserve your health and happiness.

In Summary:

Cortisol is necessary for human survival, unfortunately stress can trick the body into believing it is under physical threat causing it to produce more cortisol than is needed. Meditation, massage, exercise, and learning to control your stress can help you to reduce cortisol naturally.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

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Postpartum Massage

Recently I massaged a woman who was only two weeks postpartum

My first thought was about her comfort and I offered her a breast cushion, my next thought was about precautions post pregnancy…

In my last post I wrote about prenatal massage and the changes experienced in pregnancy. Following child birth some of those same conditions still apply.  Relaxin, the hormone that loosens ligaments is still present and can remain present in the body up to four months after discontinuing breast feeding, so her joints, especially the SI joints may still be causing her discomfort. The coagulating hormones that poses a risk for deep vein thrombosis during pregnancy may still be present for up to four weeks or more following child birth so deep tissue work is not advised during that time and specifically to be avoided on the back of her legs.

The client may be positioned prone (face down) at this time but if she has had a cesarean section it is advisable for her to wait until after the scars have healed and to speak with her physician before getting massage and to seek her doctors approval before having any abdominal massage work.

The following article by the American Pregnancy Association highlights the Many Benefits of postnatal massage

Postpartum Massage

The Benefits Of Postpartum Massage

Postpartum massage has been shown to be effective for a quicker recovery and better health. Integration of maternal bodywork may add welcome value to your healing journey and transition to motherhood.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction

Massage relaxes muscles, increases circulation and lowers stress hormones, bringing relaxation and stress relief. All body systems appreciate treatment after nine months of change, culminating with the delivery of the greatest miracle in life.

Some women prefer lighter pampering massage while others enjoy deeper techniques to work out the knots. Adding myofascial release and craniosacral therapy reaches deeper into the body for more complete healing. Any of these massage styles will bring relaxation and stress reduction.

Anxiety and depression respond very well to skilled therapy. About two-thirds of new moms experience temporary postpartum blues related to hormonal changes, new responsibilities and adjustment frustrations. Emotional support and the other benefits of massage can help during this transition.

Postpartum depression is a more serious, longer-lasting condition that affects 10-15% of mothers. Studies show massage to be beneficial for treating postpartum depression. Don’t hesitate to consult healthcare providers for assistance, including a postpartum body worker.

Pain Relief

Residual body aches from pregnancy are normal. Adding breastfeeding and childcare can intensify arm, shoulder and back pain. Massage is an effective holistic approach that relaxes muscles and relieves pain without medication. A skilled therapist may also resolve even associated numbness and tingling. Chronic or severe pain may require multiple sessions for resolution.

Hormone Regulation

Massage greatly improves postpartum hormone balance. Estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high during pregnancy and decrease after delivery. Prolactin and oxytocin hormone levels rise to facilitate breastfeeding. Studies indicate that massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Certain essential oils may also bring hormone and mood balance.

Massage also reduces naturally occurring biochemicals associated with depression (dopamine and serotonin) and cardiovascular problems (norepinephrine), supporting Mom with the challenges of motherhood.

Decreased Swelling

Body fluids need to find balance after pregnancy, in which there was an increase of about 50% in fluid volume. Massage increases circulation and lymphatic drainage to facilitate elimination of excess fluids and waste products. Tissue stimulation assists your body to shift water to the right places.

Swelling is also affected by hormones, which go through major changes after delivery. Massage helps hormone regulation, which also decreases swelling (see Hormone Regulation). Continue your high fluid intake for healing and lactation, even though you may still have swelling.

Better Sleep

Most new moms feel exhausted after labor and delivery, complicated with around-the-clock baby care. Massage will ease the fatigue, promote relaxation and assist with sleep. Studies have shown an increase in delta brain waves (those that accompany deep sleep) with massage therapy.

That is why it is very common to fall asleep during a massage. Getting enough sleep is key to postpartum recovery. Everything improves when you feel rested! Arrange some help and get regular massages for better rest and sleep. One study correlated better sleep with losing the baby fat on the tummy!

Improved Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your newborn, but can also be a challenge for some moms. Massage therapy relaxes the body, increases circulation and increases milk production. Studies show that massage increases prolactin levels, a lactation hormone.

Relaxation in the chest muscles opens the shoulders and improves lactation. New research indicates that breast massage helps relieve breast pain, decreases breast milk sodium and improves newborn suckling. Consult with your therapist about this service as work directly on the breasts may not be legal in some areas.

Her level of comfort and tolerance are as much a concern post pregnancy as they were when she was pregnant.

If at any time she feels uncomfortable with the position, pressure, or duration of the massage be prepared to make accommodations for her.

Her breasts may be tender, swollen, or engorged with milk and it is possible that she may experience a let down of her milk (leaking) during the massage. There is no risk associated with contact with breast milk.

She may be exhausted and sleep soundly through the massage, allow her to fully relax and enjoy the experience.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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Prenatal Massage

Last night I had two back to back prenatal massages, one only a week until her due date followed by one only 16 weeks pregnant.

The first one, oh so beautiful in her last trimester but so ready to finally go into labor soon. She had never had a prenatal massage before, she loved it and she wished that she had been getting massages throughout her entire pregnancy.

The second, so very happy to be pregnant following a partial hysterectomy and just coming into the discomforts of her changing body.

Both of these women are first time mommies and it is such a joy to have the opportunity to give these women the benefit of a relaxing and therapeutic massage.

Her Changing Body:

When a woman is pregnant her body is in a constant state of change in preparation for the birth process. A hormone called Relaxin loosens ligaments and the SI joints to help widen the pelvis. This can sometimes lead to low back and SI discomfort.

It is also not uncommon for women to experience sciatica in later stages of pregnancy as her changing body and the pressure of her baby can irritate the sciatic nerve.

A woman’s body also produces hormones that effects the clotting factor to prevent her from losing too much blood when giving birth. Because of that we do not use deep tissue on the back of a pregnant woman’s legs as she is more prone to blood clots at this time.

In later stages of pregnancy she may experience swelling of the feet and legs, but if that swelling is mostly on one side that can be an indication that there may be some problems and that should be addressed with her doctor.

She may become more off balance as her body is changing and she may also experience some dizziness when getting up from a resting position, so it is important for her to be careful when getting off of the massage table or out of bed.

How Massage Can Help:

  • Reduces muscle and joint discomfort
  • Provids needed relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Help minimize foot and leg swelling
  • Improves circulation
  • Help move lymphatic fluids
  • Minimizes anxiety and stress

Contraindications and Precautions:

Hot stone therapy and aroma therapies are often avoided at this time as they can effect blood pressure and in some cases can effect hormone levels.

Some use of aromatherapy have been shown to be safe during pregnancy  (such as lavender oil) but due to the highly concentrated nature of essential oils it is often suggested that aromatherapy should be avoided at this time and avoided all together in the first trimester.

High risk pregnancies such as preeclampsia or a history of blood clots should avoid getting massage until after delivery.

Many therapists may refuse to massage a woman in her first trimester because that is a time in which miscarriages are most common and it is always best to be cautious.

In the second trimester it is not uncommon to do some of the massage supine (face up) as long as the client is still comfortable laying on her back, but by the third trimester the massage needs to be done in the side lying position.

Pregnancy massage cushioning systems are sometimes used by some therapists and spas in the second and part of the third trimester, but if at any time the client feels uncomfortable it is always best to perform the massage side lying.

Always remember that if at any time you or your client feel uncomfortable in any way about the massage it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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Topical Analgesic Review

Topical Analgesic Product Review for Biofreeze, Cryoderm, and Sombra products

Biofreeze image

Biofreeze:

If you have ever been to a chiropractor or sports medicine clinic I am sure you have seen or heard of Biofreeze.

They have several products including gel, roll-on, and a 360 degree spray. The products are easily found for purchase at most chiropractic clinics, sports medicine clinics, and various spas.

The 360 spray is by far their best product, easy to apply even to your own back with a spray can that works even when held upside down.

The roll-on is simple to use for those areas that you can easily reach but due to direct contact with the skin it should only be used on one person.

Gel is the most common products that is used in most chiropractic clinics. For me personally this is my least favorite product to use in massage because the gel eventually balls up while I am working the area (the same can be said for gels from other companies as well,) however, it does provide a cooling sensation and helps aid in the relaxation of the effected muscles.

Pros:

Easy to obtain at various distributors, easy to use, temporary cooling effect and muscle pain relief.

Cons:

Not long lasting, smells like medicated alcohol, gel balls up with rubbing.

Now, onto my two personal favorites!

cryoderm image

Cryoderm:

I had never heard of Cryoderm products until I was introduced to them at the World Massage Festival. They have a number of products ranging from lotions, sprays, roll-ons, gels, and also heat therapy products.

The cooling effect lasts for several hours and far outlasts Biofreeze.

The heating products contain Capsaicin and provide lasting heat sensation, in fact much hotter than expected. This product might be a bit too much for anyone who is sensitive to hot peppers, but it definitely does exactly what it intends to do!

Pros;

Long lasting cooling or heating, effective muscle pain relief, never tested on animals.

Cons:

Heat therapy may be too hot for some people, strong medicinal scent.

If you like Biofreeze you will love Cryoderm.
sombra products image

Sombra:

What is not to love about Sombra? It has a more pleasant smell than the other products, comes in cooling, heating, and even a soothing lemon version.This also comes in a handy roll-on version as well as lotions, creams, and gels.

The cooling effect is effective but not overpowering, the heating effect is subtle but warming. The heating product also contains Capsaicin but is not as intensely hot as the Cryoderm Heat products. A nice happy medium that is long lasting and smells wonderful!

Pros:

Long lasting heat or cooling, pleasant scent, also comes in a soothing lemon scent.

Cons:

I cannot think of any cons.

http://www.sombrausa.com/

 

In summary:

My personal favorite if I want a powerhouse of an analgesic I prefer Cryoderm products, but if I am looking for an effective yet soothing option I prefer to use Sombra products. Biofreeze is good but if given a choice between them all I know which products I would prefer to use for my clients.

It is also very important to mention that no matter which of these products you use always remember to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your face, eyes, or other areas where the heating or cooling sensation might be problematic, I can assure you from first hand experience that getting these products in your eye is not a pleasant experience.

(I was not paid by any of these companies to write this review, the opinions expressed here are from my personal experience with the three products mentioned.) 

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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When NOT to Massage

The following are examples of times in which we should NOT massage or at the very least modify the massage and inform the client as to why…

Client has not seen a doctor but believes he or she may have “torn” a muscle or “thrown out” their back lifting something:

As you begin to massage the area in question the pain becomes intolerable.  At this point STOP working on that area, we do not want to do anything that may make the condition worse.

We unfortunately do not have x-ray eyes and cannot see if a muscle is torn or a disc has been herniated or if there may be a bone spur pressing on a nerve or any of the many things that could possibly be going on.

This is when we really need to tell the client to see their doctor just to be sure that the injury is not worse than what the client believes it to be.

Many people are hesitant to see their doctors for a variety of reasons, I will admit that I seldom go to the doctor unless I am absolutely sure that I cannot manage whatever is wrong with me on my own so I understand this. Many people are more inclined to schedule a massage or stop by their local chiropractor before ever seeing a physician.

You are giving a massage and come across an area that is red, swollen, and hot to the touch:

Avoid that area, not only for their safety but for yours as well, there could be a staph infection or other condition that not only could you make worse but could contract and or spread to other clients.

I had this situation happen with a walk-in client, the first part of the massage, neck, shoulders, and back was uneventful, but when I exposed one leg to work on it that was when I saw the problem. I did not touch the area in question, I held my hand slightly above it and could feel the heat coming off of it, everything in me was telling me this man needs to see a doctor ASAP.

I told him that based on what I was seeing I cannot massage his legs and I strongly urged him to have it looked at by a doctor, his leg looked so bad that I added that he should not wait to have it checked out. I honestly hope that he did, because what I was seeing was very concerning.

Prenatal client states to avoid one of her legs:

As I was massaging her I noticed that the leg in question was more swollen than the other, she later tells me that she had recently had a blood clot in that leg but that it was gone now. She went on to tell me that in the past she had a blood clot that had gone to her lung when she was not pregnant. Later she tells me that she is on blood thinners.

I documented this in her chart and told the receptionist that she is very high risk and we cannot continue to massage her during this pregnancy for her safety and the safety of her baby.

Client Comes in Requesting a Deep Tissue but has a lot of bruises:

When you see a lot of bruises on a client that should caution you that deep tissue techniques should be avoid.

The client may be on blood thinners or an aspirin regimen to reduce potential blood clots. Often times the client will fail to disclose daily use of aspirin  because they do not consider over the counter medicines as being medications that we should be aware of.

When I see a lot of bruises on a client I ask them if they are on blood thinners or an aspirin regimen, if they are not on either of these things the bruising may be caused by anemia or a vitamin deficiency, but regardless of the cause of the busing  we need to avoid causing further damage.

Avoid suspicious skin rashes:

There are many skin conditions that are not contagious such as eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, and ichthyosis. Such areas we can massage without concern, however, suspicious rashes, especially if red or itching should be avoided.

If you see redness or marks from fingernail scratching this should alert you that the area may be contagious. Any strange lesions or open sores should be avoided.

If a rash or other skin condition seems questionable you can choose to use gloves for the massage but make sure that the client does not have a latex allergy.

Do not be afraid to refer a client to their doctor:

Your clients trust you, if you see something that is concerning please don’t hesitate to suggest to the client that they may want to have their doctor take a look at something. It is better to be cautious than to let a potential condition worsen or go untreated.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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