Tag Archives: Treatment

What is Firm Swedish?

The other night at work an Esthetician asked me “What is Firm Swedish?”

One of my massage therapist coworkers was in the break room with us at the time and turned to hear my response…

I began to try and explain that it is a Swedish Massage with a firmer pressure, then I said “ok, realistically it is a gentle  Deep Tissue because Deep Tissues by definition is accessing the deeper layers of the muscles instead of just the superficial ones and I have no idea why we even bother muddying the waters with all the various terms we use.”

My coworkers eyes widened and she said “You are right, Swedish is gentle and relaxing, its not supposed to be firm pressure.”

Firm Swedish is for people wanting more of a Deep Tissue therapeutic effect without the pain or discomfort often associated with Deep Tissue massage

In all honestly there is not a lot of difference between the stokes, moves, and methods that I would use during a Firm Swedish Massage and the ones that I would use for someone asking for Deep Tissue.

In fact many of the Firm Swedish massages that I do end up being Deep Tissue work and some of the Deep Tissue work that I do ends up being more of a Firm Swedish depending on the need and tolerance level of my client.

Pressure is subjective!

We then discussed how all these words “Firm” “Deep” “Light” and “Medium”  are all subjective and vary widely  from not only the clients but the therapists as well.

One client’s idea of medium pressure is another client’s idea of deep, some say light when they really want medium, and some say light when they want feather light pressure.

My idea of light may be too light for some or too heavy handed for others, each persons perception of pressure is different and each therapists idea of pressure is different.

I find its easier if the client says something like “I want results but I don’t want to be put in pain” or “really go to town on those shoulders” or “please no elbows” to give me a better idea of what it is they are seeking. Communication is always the key to getting the massage experience that you desire.

Deep Tissue Massage Does not have to be painful!

If you search the internet about Deep Tissue massage you will find that page after page all state “Deep Tissue does not have to be painful to be effective.”

Unfortunately many people believe in the “no pain no gain” concept, this includes many Massage Therapists.

The idea that you have to tolerate a painful session because “you really need this” is not correct. If you are wincing, flinching, or tensing up then your muscles are not going to be able to relax and it may be counter productive to the goal of getting your muscles to loosen up.

Of course there will be people who will argue that point and say that the muscles will feel better after two or three days because of the painful deep pressure, that too is valid in the fact that eventually the muscle will tire and weaken and the result will be less tension due to the muscle exhaustion.

That being said there have been cases of injuries from Deep Tissue massage, there is a point where too much is too much. There is  also a condition called Rhabdomyolysis or Rhabdo for short that can result from muscle crush injuries.

Muscles store myoglobin, when too much myoglobin is released into the body it can become toxic when it reaches the kidneys. This is one of the main reasons why you should drink plenty of water following a massage to help flush that away.

Release of Myoglobin from massage has been found in a study to reduce the pain and discomfort of myofascial pain syndromes with surprisingly positive results:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3462906

A positive correlation was found between the degree of muscle tension and pain, and the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration. After repeated massage treatment a gradual decline in the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration could be demonstrated parallel to a reduction in the muscle tension and pain.

So  there is definitely benefit to getting Deep Tissue massage for people with muscle pain, the same can be said for Firm Swedish which is simply another form of Deep Tissue therapy.

We can honestly only go so deep

There are times when we get a client who wants the deepest, hardest, and most painful massage that we can possibly give them.

For whatever reason that client feels the need to have it hurt, whether it is because they believe it will be more effective or because they cannot quite feel how much pressure is actually being given I am not sure.

When a client is clearly seeking a sensation of pain we do our best to try and use pressure points to provide them the sensation they seek without causing damage to the muscles  tissues and bony structure, however, there are times when we simply cannot go any harder or any deeper.

In closing, to sum things up…

Firm Swedish is simply a more gentle form of Deep Tissue Massage. Deep Tissue Massage does not have to be painful to be effective.  Areas that are more tense may be a bit painful but it should be a “good hurt” and not a “bad hurt” or overly painful experience.

Whatever it is you are seeking from your massage experience it is best to communicate your needs, concerns, and areas that you want to address as well as areas that are more sensitive to you so that we can offer you the massage experience and effect that you are seeking.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen 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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Should You Get a Massage When You Are Sick? NO!

Tis the Season, the Cold and Flu Season

Should you get a massage when you are sick, NO absolutely NOT, for oh so many reasons…

Risk of spreading the illness to others

Many people who are seeking massage treatments often have other health concerns. When you come  into the treatment area please be aware that some of the clients have autoimmune conditions and cannot easily fight off infections or illnesses, some are elderly, others are recovering from cancer treatments or other serious medical conditions. Please keep this in mind.

Risk of getting your therapist sick

Your massage therapist will be stuck in a room in close proximity to you, your sneezing and coughing will disperse germs into the massage room, the bedding your therapist will be changing, and the massage equipment.

Your therapist will then be exposing all of the other clients to the illness.

Risk of making yourself feel worse

Your body is already busy trying to recover from the illness, you need rest and fluids. A massage may feel comforting but it may actually increase some of your symptoms by overstimulating your autonomic nervous system.

This has been a tough cold and flu season

You can help prevent the spread of illness by limiting the exposure to others around you. Please do not hesitate to reschedule your appointment if you believe that you may be sick.

Get well soon!

 

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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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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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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Can’t Afford A Massage?

I often have people telling me that they wish they could get regular massage but they cannot afford it. I would like to point out a few ways that one can get regular massage without breaking the bank.

First I would like to explain that you would be getting the same exact quality of massage from me if you came to me at a high end spa or a low end spa, at a chiropractic setting or in your own home. The only difference would be that you might not get the amenities of a high end spa such as a Eucalyptus Steam Room and showers.

PPO insurance: most PPO insurance covers alternative medicine, you can use this option to get part or all of the cost of your massage treatments covered by your insurance. In some cases a massage therapist can bill directly to insurance (depending on state laws) or a client can receive massage therapy at a chiropractic or other alternative medicine clinic. Find out if your insurance covers massage.

Memberships: Many spas offer membership rates which lock in a reduced price for being a loyal customer, and example would be non member rate of $99.99 an hour vs member rate of $59.99, saving you $30 per visit. Look into the terms of the contract and the cancellation policies before entering into a membership, introductory rates are often available at such places for first time clients.

Massage Schools: if your insurance does not cover massage and you absolutely cannot afford to get massage treatments don’t discount the idea of getting a massage from students. By the time they get to the clinical part of their education they have already been practicing on each other, family members, and friends and have learned all the basics they need to get started in their hands on education. You will also be providing them much needed practice and feedback to help them in their future career in the field. The cost varies from school to school so contact a few schools in your area and inquire.

Groupon: I hesitate to mention groupon because its business model can be financially hard on a massage therapist as the reduced rate and fees for groupon are generally cost prohibitive in a massage setting but it is an option for finding massage at a reduced cost, sometimes as low as $35 an hour depending on the location. It is a good way to shop around for a good price as well as a good therapist. The downside to groupon is that on average only 10% of people who use a groupon will become repeat clients, which is why many places tend to shy away from offering groupons.

Many private therapists are more than happy to offer you a reduced cost for repeat business and some offer special package deals such as pay for 4 massages get the 5th one free, feel free to ask your therapist if he or she offers any reduced cost options, many will be willing to work with you in exchange for your loyalty as a client.

Make sure that you are being treated by a trained and state regulated massage therapist as there are still many fake massage establishments out there offering very cheap massages that are not only untrained and uneducated but may also cause more harm than good.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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How Massage Can Enhance Your Health

A lot of research has been conducted recently on the many benefits of massage therapy that effect your health and well being. Some of those studies were on the specific physiological effects and how massage can not only help relieve aches and pains but can also aid in boosting the immune system and improving the quality of life for people with long term medical conditions.

The studies show that many people both young and old can benefit from regular massage therapy. I am pleased to share some of the results of these studies with you.

Feel free to click on any of the links to learn more about the healing benefits of massage and as always if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. To the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are just looking for another stress reliever.    http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743

Cancer Levels and Massage Therapy
A study done by A. Billhult, C. Lindholm, R. Gunnarsson, and E. Stener-Victorin

A case done at Göteborg University in Sweden “examined the effects of massage therapy on the ‘number and activity of peripheral blood natural killer (NK) cells in patients with breast cancer compared to a control group.’ NK cells are immune system cells that attack tumors. The study concluded that a single full-body massage results in a short-term effect in NK cell activity, but did not examine possible long-term effects.”

Massage and Sex Abuse
A study done by Tiffany Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Sybil Hart, Olga Quintino, Levelle A. Drose, Tory Field, Cynthia Kuhn, Saul Schanberg

“Women who experience sexual abuse often suffer from increased depression and anxiety that can have a deleterious effect on their day-to-day lives. Women who had experienced sexual abuse were given thirty-minute massages twice per week. After each massage, they reported decreased stress and depression and after a month they reported an overall reduction in depression and in stress associated with life events.” http://www.insymmetry.com/case-studies-regarding-medical-benefits-of-massage-therapy/#comment-1323

“There is emerging evidence that [massage] can make contributions in treating things like pain, where conventional medicine doesn’t have all the answers,” said Jack Killen,NCCAM’s deputy director.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 showed that full-body Swedish massage greatly improved symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients who had massages twice weekly for four weeks and once a week for an additional four weeks had less pain and stiffness and better range of motion than those who didn’t get massages.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

  • A full-body massage boosted immune function and lowered heart rate and blood pressure in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation treatment, a 2009 study of 30 participants found.

  • Children given 20-minute massages by their parents every night for five weeks plus standard asthma treatment had significantly improved lung function compared with those in standard care, a 2011 study of 60 children found.

  • A 10-minute massage upped mitochondria production, and reduced proteins associated with inflammation in muscles that had been exercised to exhaustion.  http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304537904577277303049173934

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