6 Benefits Of Infrared Sauna Therapy

By Amy Myers, M.D.

As you might know, sweating is a great way to burn calories and rid your body of unwanted toxins. But how do you sweat when you’re injured, or unable to exercise?

I like to sweat in an infrared sauna. Infrared saunas help your body release a number of toxins, including heavy metals like mercury and lead, and environmental chemicals. The benefits don’t stop there. With infrared sauna technology, you can also lose weight, relax, relieve unwanted pain, increase your circulation, and purify your skin.

6 Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy

1. Detoxification

Sweating is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of detoxification. When compared to traditional Swedish saunas, infrared saunas allow you to eliminate about seven times more toxins.

2. Relaxation

Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. The heat generated by the sauna will also help to relax muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, allowing you to relax and de-stress.

3. Pain Relief

If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.

4. Weight Loss

The heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate — the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. When your body has to work harder to lower your core temperature or keep up with an increased heart rate, your body will burn more calories, resulting in weight loss. An article, titled Effect of Sweating, in the Journal of the American Medical Associationconcluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.

5. Improved Circulation

As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your circulation will increase along with it. Consistent infrared sauna sessions, especially in the middle-infrared level, can stimulate blood flow, improve muscle recovery, and decrease pain and inflammation after intense exercise.

6. Skin Purification

Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

Infrared Levels

Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: near, middle, and far.

These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment. Most people find that:

  • near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function
  • middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation
  • far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes

My Recommendations

If you’re new to infrared saunas, I would recommend starting out with 4-minute sessions at 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly working your way up to 15- to 30-minute sessions.

If an infrared sauna is not available, but you have access to a regular sauna, you can still achieve some degree of detoxification with 10- to 20-minute sessions at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.

First Time At The Spa Basics

by Anitra Brown

If the idea of going to a spa makes you nervous, you're not alone. Many people have their first spa experience when they get a gift card to a day spa. Some people don't even use it because they're anxious about what will happen and the finer points of spa etiquette.

But you can relax—literally! The biggest area of concern is usually taking your clothes off for a massage. This shouldn't be a worry, because in America there are very strict protocols for draping during massage.

Only the part of your body that is being worked on is exposed. The rest of it is covered with a sheet and blanket or sometimes a large towel. You can keep your clothes on for certain types of treatments such as reflexology. And the truly shy can always get a facial or a spa manicure and pedicure.

And you don't have to worry too much about knowing what to do, because someone will be there at every step to tell you where to go, what to do and what happens next.  

Choosing A Spa

Most of us make our decisions based on convenience—what's close by, and within my budget? But there are other things you should take into account. Look for friendly, nurturing staff, from the person at the front desk to the massage therapists, estheticians, nail technicians, and make-up artists. Of course, all therapists should be licensed. (If the treatments are really cheap, this might be one reason.)

A well-trained staff starts with the person at the front desk, so if they're not polite over the phone—forget it.

When you arrive, you want a quiet, relaxing, well-designed environment with soothing music, low lighting, and pleasant aromas that is also clean and sanitary.

It's great if you can find special equipment such as hydrotherapy tubs, whirlpool tubs, steam rooms, sauna, steam cabinets, Vichy shower, etc., which will help you spend more time relaxing.

 

A good spa menu should explain the treatments, and staff that can answer any questions in detail.  It's always a good sign if the spa asks you to complete a medical disclosure questionnaire.

When It's Your First Time at the Spa

If you want to find out what a spa is like, you can always ask for a tour before you book an appointment. The spa may or not be able to accommodate you, but it's fair to ask. Here are a few things to look for.  

When you book your appointment, tell the spa concierge it's your first spa visit. He or she should take as much time as you need to answer any questions you have: what different spa treatments are like, what they would suggest for you, when you should arrive, and so forth. The most popular spa treatments aremassagefacialsbody treatments and spa manicures and pedicures.

The spa concierge will usually ask if you have a preference for a male or female therapist.  If you say you don't have a preference, you will probably be booked with a male. It's fine to state your preference.  Most people feel more comfortable with a female therapist, especially in the beginning

Select Your Spa Treatments

The basic spa treatments are massagefacial, body treatmentmanicure, and pedicure.

 

A massage will help you relax and get rid of muscle tension. (A Swedish massage is a good place for beginners.) A facial is a deep cleansing of your face, and a body treatment exfoliates and softens the skin on your body. Most spas offer manicures and pedicures as well.

You can also combine services—a massage and a body treatment is a good combination (get the body treatment first) or a massage and a facial (get the massage first). The quality of the therapist determines the quality of the treatment. Get a personal reference if you can. Also, think about whether you prefer a male or female therapist.

Before You Go

Don't eat for at least an hour before or after your massage. Drink plenty of water after your service to enhance the benefits of your treatments.

Arrive early so you have time to enjoy the sauna, steam or whirlpool before your treatment.

If you get in a whirlpool, shower to get rid of the chlorine before a massage. Allow your mind to calm down before your treatment. Although most spas have lockers that lock, you might want to leave valuables at home.

Enjoy Your Spa Experience

Most people know generally remove your clothes for massage and body treatments, but you are draped with sheets or large towels. (Read more about nudity and the spa.) Relax—no one is judging your body. Take slow, deep breaths before your treatment begins. Envision every muscle in your body relaxing, and simply be open to the experience.

Communicate with your therapist. If you have any feedback on the temperature or amount of pressure, let them know. You can talk or not, as you prefer—the therapist will usually follow your lead. When the treatment is over, take the time to slowly reintegrate, rather than rushing off. A tip of 15% to 20% is appropriate.

When you get back home, continue the good feeling by taking care of yourself. Most spas sell the products they use but don't feel pressured to buy, although it's a good idea to get into a proper skin care routine at home.

More Spa Basics

There are several different types of spas. The most common is the day spa. Here are tips on how to choose the right day spa for you and make the most of your trip to the day spa.

Other first-time spa-goers have their first spa experience on vacation, at aresort/hotel spas. Resort/hotel spas come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from small private inns like The Harbour Inn in St. Michaels, Maryland, to the lavish, sprawling resort spas in Hawaii.

People who are interested in weight loss or jump-starting a health lifestyle often choose destination spas that offer an all-encompassing spa experience. Examples are Lake Austin Spa Resort or Canyon Ranch.

Spas provide wonderful, nurturing experiences, but they aren't usually cheap. There are many affordable destination spas.

The Health Benefits of Massage

By: Anita Brown via TripSavvy

We tend to think of massage as a way to pamper ourselves, but it's much more than a momentary feel-good treatment.  Massage therapy and massage spas have many important health benefits. In fact, massage can help you maintain physical, mental and emotional well being, especially when it is part of your regular wellness routine.

The work your massage therapist does in each session builds on itself, helping your body maintain its relaxed state and your muscles to remain pliable even during times of physical and mental stress.

Here are some of the many benefits of massage: 

* Massage calms the nervous system and promotes a sense of relaxation and well being.

* Massage reduces tension and anxiety, and can help relive depression.

* Massage improves blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

* Massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which carries away the body’s waste products.

* Massage prevents and relieve muscles cramps and spasms.

Massage therapy can help with pain management in conditions such as arthritis, sciatica, muscle spasms.

Remind yourself of these health benefits if you start to feel guilty about getting massage!

Massage is not a good idea if you have a fever, infections, inflammation, osteoporosis and other medical conditions.

If you have any questions about whether a massage would be right for you, ask to speak to a massage therapist before you make your appointment.

How often you should get a massage depends on several factors, including your physical and emotional needs; your stress levels; and your budget.  There's no question that you will experience the most health benefits from massage when you get massage regularly.

Massage therapy calms the nervous system, improves blood circulation and lymphatic circulation, relieves muscle pain, and helps with pain management in conditions such as arthritis, sciatica, muscle spasms.  

If you get a massage once a year, it will be relaxing, but it can't undo a lifetime of muscle tension. Typically, once every week or two is ideal for keeping your muscle tissue pliable and in good shape.   If you are in chronic pain or have a special issue to address, you might need to come weekly (or even twice a week) until you feel better.  

Once you're feeling good, once a month is the recommended minimum for maintaining the health of your tissue. If you start stretching the massages out too far apart, then your muscles can revert to their old patterns, especially if you come under stress.  If you wait too long, you'll have to start all over again to restore their suppleness and pliancy. Listen to your body, but don't wait too long in an effort to save money.

If you wait too long, you'll have to start all over again to restore their suppleness and pliancy. Listen to your body, but don't wait too long in an effort to save money.

Pro Football Players Testify To Craniosacral Helping With Concussions

The word concussion typically comes to mind when you think of traumatic events such as car accidents.

But for professional athletes, especially those who play football, concussion can be part of a normal day’s work—and according to NFL injury statistics released for the 2017 season, this type of head injury is becoming more common, with 281 reported this past year. That’s an increase of more than 13 percent from the previous year.

The effects of concussion often extend far beyond the acute stage of injury, and athletes seek out many forms of treatment to deal with them.

One complementary health intervention that shows promise in the addressing of post-concussion symptoms is CranioSacral Therapy (CST).

“[CST] is perfect for football players,” said Ricky Williams, a former NFL running back who also played a season in the Canadian Football League.

Williams, who trained in CST through the Upledger Institute International (UII) and is currently studying Chinese medicine in Los Angeles, partnered with UII in 2014 and 2015 to offer two intensive therapy programs to football players with post-concussion symptoms.

The programs produced a pilot study on the effects of the therapy on this type of injury,

published in 2017 in the journal Medical Acupuncture“CranioSacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation: A New Treatment Intervention for Concussion Recovery,” found that 10 sessions of specific CST, visceral manipulation and neural manipulation resulted in statistically greater improvements in pain intensity, range of motion, memory, cognition, and sleep in concussed patients.

What is CranioSacral Therapy?

CST, according to a definition on UII’s website, is a “gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.”

The modality targets the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Injuries to any part of the body, CST practitioners say, can manifest in the central nervous system, so releasing restrictions there can facilitate self-healing in other areas of the body.

Williams first discovered CST when he was playing football for the Toronto Argonauts. He noted that many of the team’s trainers knew the technique and offered it routinely to players.

“I noticed in our training room, after practice sometimes, guys would be laying on the table, and their trainers would have their hands underneath the guys’ heads,” Williams told MASSAGE Magazine.

Intrigued, he tried it out one day and then started receiving CST weekly; soon he was taking courses in it through UII.

Later, in 2009, he received CST through one of UII’s intensive programs. In his subsequent season, playing for the Miami Dolphins, he rushed more than 1,000 yards, breaking an NFL record.

“It changed my life,” he said of his CST sessions. “I had a great season, and I attribute a lot of it to the work that I did at [UII].”

What Is Concussion?

Football players can suffer concussions in any number of ways during practice or games. A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), typically occurs after a blow to the head or violent movement of the head or body, and might or might not make you lose consciousness, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

A concussion may cause symptoms such as headache, memory loss, ringing in the ears, or even nausea, vomiting and slurred speech. These effects usually resolve in a matter of hours or days, but in some cases concussion can have longer-term effects.

Repeated head trauma, such as that experienced in combat or in rough sports like football, can cause permanent and debilitating problems, called post-concussion syndrome, or even develop into what is now known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include cognitive problems, poor impulse control, memory loss, aggression or dementia, among others.

March is the Brain Injury Association of America’s Brain Injury Awareness Month; massage therapists and clients can learn more about concussion and CTE from the association.

Another article published recently on this topic was “CranioSacral Therapy, Brain Injury, and American Football: Time for a Convergence,” by Eric Leskowitz, MD, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.)

Concussions and CTE

Most people with concussions make full recoveries, but much attention has been paid lately to the prevalence of this injury in football at all levels—professional, college, high school and Pop Warner.

The NFL has faced criticism for not taking action to address the prevalence of concussion and CTE, and many athletes now retired from the game are discovering the long-term health effects of repeated head-and-body trauma.

“All these injuries accumulate,” said Chas Perry, PhD, CSTD, one of the organizers of UII’s concussion programs. “So you have a lot of head injury, you have a lot of injuries in various parts of the body, and over time that takes a toll on people.”

Williams, as a football player himself, has long been aware of how repetitive trauma can affect the body. While he believes it’s important to work on prevention of concussion and cte, he also advocates for investigating new techniques for counteracting these effects, including those outside the realm of conventional medicine.

“I’ve realized that almost every square inch of my body has been traumatized at some point in time over my football career, whether it’s from being hit, being tackled [or] being fallen on,” said Williams.

“Going through healing sessions where I’m receiving work and feeling energy and life force, mobility, blood flow, come back into these areas of my body, it’s really mind-blowing,” he said.

Positive Outcomes

UII’s concussion program, held in 2014 and again in 2015, conducted research involving 11 ex-football players diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. The research excluded those suffering from recent head trauma, in order to specifically study the long-term effects of concussion. (Another program is planned for late 2018.)

Each time, athletes participated in a week of intensive therapy in West Palm Beach, Florida, performed by a team of health care professionals; therapies given twice daily for two hours per session included CST, visceral manipulation and neural manipulation.

Outcomes were measured before treatment, after treatment and three months post-treatment, and included the effects on cognitive tasks, quality of life, headaches, dizziness, pain, range of motion, balance and sleep, among others.

Statistically significant outcomes, according to the study’s abstract, existed in measures of pain intensity, cognition, memory, sleep and range of motion.

Anecdotally, many of the participants in these studies reported rapid, dramatic results. In addition to improvements in pain and other physical complaints, many also reported positive changes in cognition and emotion.

For example, said Perry, some former football players who have suffered head trauma have trouble modulating strong emotions, such as anger and aggression; others might develop depression, experience irrational fears or have trouble concentrating.

“You have a lot of very unusual phenomena that can be uniquely individual, but they’re all basically kind of brain trauma related,” Perry said.

“During the intensive, the therapists used persistent but gentle hand pressure at various contact points and areas on my body. Sometimes I questioned if anything was actually happening, but at the end of each session I felt noticeably better,” wrote Clarence Vaughn, a former member of the Washington Redskins, in a testimonial about the program. “By the end of the week I was a new man. The pain in my neck, shoulders and hips was gone!”

Eric Williams, a former member of the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions, also wrote a testimonial to the therapies’ positive effects. “My mood, my emotions and body had such a drastic change, it’s really hard to put into words. My chronic pain was drastically reduced and my range of motion on 99 percent of my body parts increased significantly,” he wrote. “I can’t explain what they did or how they did it. All I know is, I’d do it again in [a] heartbeat.”

The results of the UII study are encouraging,  but more research is needed to advance the acceptance of this therapy, said Ron Radawiec, PT,  who has worked with many traumatic brain injury clients and also worked hands-on with these athletes. Yet, he acknowledged the strength of the anecdotal evidence for these therapies’ effectiveness and said the changes can be profound at the physical, emotional and cognitive levels.

“I highly recommend Upledger CranioSacral Therapy to anyone who has played football,” wrote David Meggyesy, a program participant who played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s, in a testimonial.

“CranioSacral was a revelation — what a gift.”

 

-Allison M. Payne 

How Massage Helped a Veteran With PTSD!!

Luis Mercado is a combat veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan under his belt.

Now he is also a massage therapist in West Hollywood, California.

Although Mercado’s massage studio is relatively new, having opened in 2017, his dedication to his craft goes back nearly a decade to when he was a marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

His personal connection to massage goes back even further, to when he was diagnosed as having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Luis Mercado:

“In 2004 I was diagnosed with PTSD, [which] causes an effect on the body, whether it’s mentally or physically, on a day-to-day basis, where the person who has it is reminded of a past traumatic event,” he explained. “I was diagnosed with PTSD and massage was given to me as a form of therapy, among many other forms of therapy, to help me cope with the condition.

“Out of the many therapies, it was massage that had the greatest impact,” Mercado recalled.

Although massage therapy was successful in rehabilitating him, it wasn’t a case of being cured overnight. It was a gradual process.

As Mercado remembers it, he got off to a slow start.

“When you’re getting massaged, you’re lying on the table face down, with your peripheral vision closed off. You can’t see, and you feel very vulnerable,” he said. “To even get in that position alone took several sessions.”

He said it took him more than a year of sessions to see significant results—but that once he experienced those results, he became intrigued by massage.

His interest in massage led him to take classes while he was stationed in Okinawa.

“Being exposed to the various modalities that are popular in Japan, like shiatsu, helped to broaden my horizons,” he said. “[And] this is when I started to step into this world. I said to myself, if I can give back to my fellow Marines, I would do so. I [massaged my colleagues] at first to help people, and then thought of the career later.”

Mercado first started practicing massage professionally in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“When I took off the uniform in 2012, I was offered the opportunity to go work overseas,” he said.

“This is when I started doing massage as a mobile service. I didn’t market the business or brand it. It was on a word-of-mouth basis. I lived in Dubai for five years, practicing massage, and came back in 2017 [to open] Organic Escape.”

As a combat veteran who takes the Marines’ semper fidelis (always loyal) motto to heart, Mercado continues to work with military personnel, both veterans and active duty members, and takes a special pride in helping clients with PTSD.

“One of my clients who has severe PTSD has really transformed,” he said. “She can do things now that she couldn’t do before. She’s prone to being more social, and so on. It’s been a real transformation.”

Massage Therapist to the Stars

As one might expect, operating a massage studio in Hollywood means working with clients from the entertainment industry. When asked if he works with any big names, Mercado chuckled.

“I wish I could tell you who our clients are, but we have disclosure agreements that we have to honor,” he said.

Although he won’t reveal any names, Mercado was happy to share some of his success stories.

“I worked with an actor. He had been in an accident—he had severe whiplash and damage to his spinal cord—and he came in with a drastically reduced range of motion in his neck,” Mercado said. “All of his neck muscles, anteriorly and posteriorly, were shot. He couldn’t move his head at all.

“Given his type of career, this was a huge problem. He was a very busy individual. He needed to travel. He needed to work. He was in high demand.

“After several sessions, he could turn his head all around. His increase of range of motion was a very emotional moment for him. It saved his career,” said Mercado. “It was amazing to see him come through that.”

Advice for Male Massage Therapists

The massage industry is a robust slice of humanity, with practitioners who come from all walks of life. While most massage therapists are female (about 85 percent, according to a MASSAGE Magazinesurvey), male massage therapists such as Mercado can thrive as well.

When asked if he had any advice for male massage therapists, Mercado responded enthusiastically.

“Even if just one person reads this [article] and gets some encouragement from it, I would be happy,” he said.

“There’s a philosophy that I use that I would like all male massage therapists to absorb,” he said. “This philosophy is comprised of three things I call the three Cs.”

Mercado said the first C stands for communication.

“This means being able to understand your client’s needs and wants, whether they express them verbally or nonverbally. Sometimes the best communication you can have with your client is by simply listening.”

Mercado added that communication is the most important of the three Cs.

The second C, he said, stands for consistency.

“We have to consistently go out and seek information to make ourselves better,” said Mercado. “And at the same time, we have to maintain the quality of work that we give to our clients.

“There’s also the consistency of your character,” he added. “Are you consistent in how you present yourself? Are you consistent in the character and morals that you present? You have to be able to look in the mirror and know that you’re providing consistent quality.”

Mercado’s third C stands for creativity.

“This is the flipside of consistency,” he explained. “They sound like opposites, but they work together.

Creativity, he said, allows you to think outside the box and break up the monotony. When it comes to your workspace, for example, he advised, be creative in your environment.

“And of course be creative in your work,” Mercado added. “Maintaining a healthy relationship with our clients is the most important thing we can do as male therapists. Be yourself while being professional at all times.”

Do Infrared Saunas play a role in Kidney Health??

THE IMPORTANCE OF KIDNEY HEALTH

Approximately 26 million Americans have kidney disease, and most don’t even realize they have it!  The reason is because many people aren’t aware they are ill until the symptoms have progressed significantly.  Unfortunately, kidney disease is one of those silent ailments which can wreak havoc on your body unbeknownst to you.

Some symptoms of kidney disease include the following:

  1.   nausea
  2.   vomiting
  3.   decreased appetite
  4.   weakness and fatigue
  5.   changes in urination
  6.   swelling of feet and ankles
  7.   high blood pressure
  8.   muscle twitching
  9.   trouble sleeping
  10.   shortness of breath (if fluid builds around the lining of the heart)
  11.   chest pain

There are certain things which can exasperate the symptoms and increase your chances of kidney disease including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and/or obesity.  Luckily, there are several things you can do to start taking care of your kidneys now.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for tens of millions of Americans at risk, and March is national kidney month!  It is important to take care of your body, and your kidneys are no exception.  Your kidneys are pretty powerful if you think about it – they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and never get a break!

Interesting Facts About Your Kidneys:

  1.   They filter approximately 200 liters of blood a day.
  2.   They direct red blood cell production.
  3.   They help regulate blood pressure.
  4.   They are responsible for filtering waste from your blood.
  5.   They balance your body’s fluids.
  6.   They produce an active form of Vitamin D which promotes strong, healthy bones.
  7.   They regulate the body’s salt, potassium and acid content.
  8.   People often don’t realize they have kidney disease until the symptoms and disease has progressed.

Preventing Kidney Disease and Promoting Kidney Health

As the nation’s 9th most deadly killer, kidney disease can be prevented by educating yourself and by taking easy, daily steps that promote kidney health.

The risk for this disease can be reduced by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, maintaining proper weight, stopping smoking, exercising regularly and avoiding excessive use of medications that can harm the kidneys, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

One interesting fact is the skin and the kidneys both help detox the body.  Traditional Chinese medicine often refers to the skin as the third kidney.  Modern research is discovering new insights into the value of skin detoxification for those with kidney disease. Dr. Jenna Henderson writes about one German study evaluated the benefit of sweating for Stage 4 chronic kidney disease patients. Patients sweated into towels, and the towels were then chemically analyzed for content of uremic waste (this waste can build up in the blood and can cause kidney damage). Not only were uremic waste products found, but the researchers noted that the more often the patients experienced these sweating sessions, the more uremia came out in each session. The body learns to push this pathway through repeated stimulation.

This is where we mention our favorite topic:  the benefits of sweatingvia infrared saunas!  However, it is also important you talk to your doctor should you have kidney disease before partaking several sweating sessions in one of our Clearlight saunas.

Foods Which Keep Your Kidneys Happy & Healthy

In addition to using infrared saunas for happy and healthy kidneys, and to support them in their never-ending job of filtering waste out of the blood, there are other things you can do to support kidney health.  Naturally, exercise and a good diet are a couple of those things, but there are foods which also support your kidneys.  They are as follows:

  1.   Grapes
  2.   Cranberries
  3.   Blueberries
  4.   Fennel
  5.   Onions
  6.   Celery
  7.   Beets
  8.   Spinach
  9.   Asparagus
  10.   String beans
  11.    Apples
  12.    Eggplants
  13.    Rice
  14.    Pears
  15.    Peas
  16.     Peppers
  17.     Zucchini to name a few.

All in all, kidney disease is a silent killer which doesn’t make itself known until it has developed into advanced stages.  Our recommendation is to make a healthy lifestyle a habit NOW so it doesn’t afflict you later on.

-Clearlight 

Why Older Americans Need Massage

By: Lily Zhao 

The retirement age has risen over the past few years, and Americans are collecting Social Security benefits later than ever before.

Although it may not seem like a concern, a new study shows that collecting Social Security later may be detrimental to the elder population’s health.

In October 2017, the University of Michigan released a study revealing that as the retirement age increases, the health of older people nearing retirement is decreasing.

According to the study, pre-retirement generations today have more health issues impacting their lives compared to prior generations in their 50s.

The study used data from long-term health studies and is the first to focus specifically on a group of Americans based on Social Security retirement age.

The study suggests that older workers will continue to face more challenges than previous generation as they work, apply for Social Security disability payments and retire using other sources of income.

Aging Americans

Social Security retirement age was raised in 1983, at a time when 50- and 60-year-old adults were in their 20s and 30s.

Back then, demographers predicted a longer life expectancy for this age group compared with their parents’ generations.

Selena Belisle, a senior massage educator and instructor at the CE Institute, said that people are living longer but not staying as active. “We are not using our joints properly with this immobility, and that’s when we use them at all,” she said.

“The problem is, many of us work long hours, and the last thing we want to do after a long hard day’s work is exercise.”

In the study, researchers grouped Americans into five groups born between 1937 and 1962 based on when they could collect their Social Security benefit. From this study, researchers discovered that those who waited longer for their benefits had higher rates of poor cognition in their 50s compared to those who did not wait as long.

In addition, the group of adults who were born later and had to wait longer to receive their benefits, tended to rate their health as fair or poor compared to adults born earlier.

The study found that this group had trouble with performing daily tasks by themselves such as taking medications or shopping. However, the researchers there weren’t strong physical differences between the groups, such as lifting 10 pounds or climbing a flight of stairs.

Benefits of Senior Massage

If a client is looking for a healing and soothing way to combat old age, massage may provide more benefits than they might first realize.

“Massage therapy for geriatrics is on the rise,” Belisle said. “As the massage industry continues to grow, massage is becoming a popular choice among Americans for pain relief and overall health.”

Ann Catlin, OTR, LMT, an occupational and massage therapist in eldercare and disability rehabilitation and a training and education consultant for AGE-u-cate Training Institute, said that massage can influence a person’s well-being and ability to live well and longer for older adults with chronic health conditions.

“Massage can have a significant positive impact on physical symptom relief of chronic health conditions older adults live with, such as arthritis, diabetes, COPD and recovery from injury or surgery,” Catlin said.

Massage can also combat the stiff movements in our bodies.

“We need greater physical activity and mobility in our lives,” Belisle said. “Massage therapy can increase circulation and bring a client through stretching and passive joint mobilization that a client might not practice on their own.”

From Young Adult to Senior Massage

For generations, conventional medicine and doctors were thought of as the only care option for health matters, Belisle said.

She noted that as health care costs have increased, people are looking for quicker and cheaper ways to improve their health.

“Massage therapy is often far less invasive, less risky and less expensive, when considering lost work time, to treat pain instead of the ‘old-school’ formulas of surgery,” she said.

It is also important to consider the factors influencing older people’s decision receive massage treatments.

Catlin said she has noticed people with higher levels of income are more likely to get a massage and continue receiving massage therapy. “There is a gap in socioeconomics,” she said.

“Someone that’s benefited from massage while younger will be more likely to continue seeking out massage as they age.”

Tailoring Senior Massage

Because of age and needs, seniors choose massage for different reasons than younger people.

Catlin says many older clients will come for a massage to address a particular need. In some cases, clients may turn to massage with a referral following a surgery or accident.

In addition, massage can keep the skin healthy and soft.

As we age, our skin can become thin, wrinkled, dry and itchy, Belisle said.

To treat irritation and replenish the skin, Belisle uses high quality moisturizing agents such as shea butter and organic creams.

“I use these heavy moisturizing mediums to create a secondary benefit for seniors,” she said. “First, my seniors receive all the benefits of a therapeutic massage, which includes increased circulation, increased range of motion, bodily awareness. Second, my massage can moisturize the skin in areas where my client cannot reach, such as the back.”

In addition, making adjustments for older adults is necessary, Catlin said. “I’ve noticed many of my older clients don’t tolerate an hour and prefer 30-minute sessions,” she said. “Often, I’ve had to modify how to position an older client on the table or even do the massage with them seated instead.”

Belisle agreed. “One of the most important differences I provide between geriatric and younger clients is getting on and off the massage table, she said. “While safety is important for all clients, I make adjustments for seniors.”

Her adjustments include checking the areas where clients will walk or stand through, making sure the room is well lit and providing greater assistance when a client gets on or off the massage table.

She also washes and wipes the client’s feet at the end of a massage and returns the client’s eyewear at the end of the massage before allowing them to sit up or dismount from the table.

The Senior Massage Therapist

Catlin said it’s important to remember that no two people age the same, and people have a wide range of individual differences.

“It’s a mistake to generalize our approach to clients just based on age,” she said. “We need to take into account each client’s health, function, goals and needs,” she said. “There may be a need to accommodate vision changes, limited range of motion, decreased balance and mobility, or even cognition.”

Belisle said seniors appreciate the time she has taken to learn how to understand the many deteriorating changes going on in their body and sees an increase in loyalty in older adults.

“My geriatric clients understand the value of having the same therapist work on them repeatedly,” she said. “We can see when a joint has lost range of motion and work on that loss.”

Massage therapists who see a senior or other type of clientele should possess a liability insurance policy that covers many modalities and protects them in case of client accident or injury.

She adds that this relationship benefits both the client and the therapist.

“To me, if a client is seeing a new therapist for every massage, then that new therapist does not know what’s normal for their new client,” Belisle said.

“It takes time to learn a client’s body and understand it’s physical hiccups, create improvements and avoid losses, and this is more efficiently practiced with a regular massage therapist over time.”

Bad Posture: What is it really doing to your body???

We’ve all been caught slouching, hunching over our computer, or just not sitting/standing up straight. We know it’s not good for us, yet the majority of us don’t take any action to improve it. You may have read some of the benefits of good posture, but what about the negative effects of bad posture? There are probably countless times that your parents have told you to “sit up straight” or “straighten up.” They might still be saying that to you today. But have they ever told you why? If not, I will.

8 Negative Effects of Bad Posture

1. Soreness & Pain

Slouching isn’t a normal position for the body, and it causes our muscles to work harder. Soreness and pain are common effects of bad posture that are often overlooked, but it can lead to long-term health issues. Chronic pain can be a result of bad posture, especially in the lower back area. Poor posture puts a lot of stress on the spine and causes lower back pain.

2. Poor Circulation

Women are taught that crossing your legs is the “proper” way to sit. When actually, it increases the pressure of fluids and gasses moving through our bodies. Crossing your legs can also lead to lower back pain and spider veins if you don’t change this habit.

3. Negative Mood

As good posture fights depression, bad posture invites it. A study published in the journal Health Psychologyreports that individuals who sat with a slouched or slumped posture exhibited more fear, lower self-esteem, and worse moods than those who sat upright. More negative words were used than positive in the linguistic analyses.

4. Increased Stress

Increased physical and mental stress are two more negative effects of bad posture. Physical stress on the body causes soreness and pain, and can also translate into mental stress. In the study mentioned previously, the relationship between posture and stressful situations was observed. The study suggests, “sitting upright may be a behavioral strategy to help build resilience to stress.” Bad posture can also decrease levels of testosterone and increase levels of cortisol.

5. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Since the nerves in your neck and upper back control muscle function in arms, wrists, and hands, bad posture can negatively affect these areas and cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Muscles can become tight and present numbness, tingling, or pain.

6. Less Motivation

Since one of the effects of bad posture is lower confidence, less motivation can also stem from bad posture. People will also see you as less confident or shy if you are slouching, which can affect both social and work situations. Less motivation also goes hand in hand with depression and fear, so it makes sense that it’s affected by posture.

7. Poor Digestion

Poor digestion is one of the negative effects of bad posture that often goes unrealized. When you slouch and hunch over, your organs bunch up together. This makes it harder for the body to digest food and can lead to constipation. It can also impact your metabolism and ultimately damage your bodily processes to consume and process food, leading to life-altering metabolic issues.

8. Fatigue

When you have poor posture, the body works harder to keep you upright, and you’ll be left feeling tired. Upright is the normal position of the body, so your body is constantly trying to get it back to where it’s supposed to be. So, to do this, the body requires more energy, which will lead you to feelings of fatigue.

Benefits of Sports Massage

By: Terence Vanderheiden, DPM 

Sports massage is reported to have many beneficial effects in athletes. Sports massage can be used pre-performance, post-performance, during training or for rehabilitation. Athletes of all levels may benefit from sports massage. If you are looking for a way to improve your athletic performance, then sports massage may be for you. Learn more about the possible performance-enhancing effects of sports massage.

What Is Sports Massage?

Sports massage is a systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport. Runner Paavo Nurmi, known as the "Flying Finn," was one of the early users of sports massage. Nurmi is said to have used sports massage during the 1924 Olympics in Paris where he won five gold medals. Here, Jack Meagher is thought to be the father of sports massage in the United States.

Many different movements and techniques are used in sports massage. Examples of these techniques include; Swedish style massage, effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), compression, friction, tapotement (rhythmic striking), vibration, gliding, stretching, percussion and trigger points. These movements and techniques are used to try to help the athlete's body achieve maximum performance and physical conditioning with a decreased chance of injury or pain and a quicker recovery.

Benefits

Many benefits from sports massage have been reported based on experience and observation. Some of the benefits are to the mind (psychological) and some are to the body (physiological). Possible side effects of sports massage are tenderness or stiffness for 1 to 2 days after the sports massage.

A skin reaction due to the massage oils is also possible. But for the most part, sports massage is safe. Some of the reported benefits include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Increased joint range of motion (ROM)
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased elimination of exercise waste products (lactic acid)
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Decreased neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed)
  • Decreased chance of injury
  • Decreased recovery time between workouts
  • Decreased muscle spasms

What the Research Says

Now that you know the reported benefits of sports massage, let's find out if the research studies support those benefits. Research studies regarding perceived fatigue and recovery showed that subjects felt they were less fatigued and felt like they recovered faster after sports massage. Decreased anxiety, improved mood, and well-being were also noted. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) decreased by about 30% in one research study. Other studies support the finding that DOMS does decrease after sports massage.

Now for some benefits that are not supported by research. The ability of sports massage to help the muscles get rid of lactic acid is not supported in research studies. Many researchers feel this is linked to the fact that increased blood flow to muscles after sports massage cannot be supported either.

A quicker recovery after sports massage is not yet supported by the research. Studies do support that active recovery (low-intensity exercise after work-out) is the best method of decreasing the amount of lactic acid that builds up after exercise and speeds recovery.

So what does all of this mean? It seems that the positive mind (psychological) benefits of sports massage are indeed supported by research studies. Study findings also support that sports massage does not negatively affect performance, but the positive body (physiological) benefits on performance are not quite as clear. More research is needed on the positive body effects and also on the mind/body interaction after sports massage.

The Benefits of Breathing Exercises!

 

Deep breathing exercises just might save your sanity. The next time you feel angry, stressed or anxious, pay attention to your breathing. Chances are when negative emotions run high, your breaths become short and shallow. In fact, I would bet that many of us rarely more than a couple deep breaths during an entire day, even when we’re not feeling stressed (and when is that?). And if you’re not taking deep breaths, you could be missing out on one of the simplest ways to drastically improve your health.

 

Stress management is an important key for improving your health and quality of living, and I believe deep breathing exercises are a foundational principle of managing life’s stresses. Whether you experience negative emotions or physical pain, the body responds in a similar way every time. You may experience a rapid heartbeat, tightening muscles, dilated pupils and perspiration in addition to short, quick breaths. This is not only an instinctual reaction, but a habit the body has developed over time in response to stressful situations. And any time you feel a twinge of anger or anxiety coming on, the body starts pumping out the juices (namely adrenaline and cortisol) that fuel this response once again.

This kind of physical reaction is tied to health problems like cardiovascular disease, insomnia, hypertension (high blood pressure), indigestion, increased infections and autoimmune disease. It also contributes to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Fortunately, you can reclaim your physical and mental health by practicing deep breathing exercises. These exercises can reverse your body’s natural reaction to stressful conditions, which will help you manage negative emotions and even physical pain more effectively. We can’t always eliminate stress from our lives, but we can learn to deal with it in a healthier way.

So, what exactly do deep breathing exercises do for you? When you learn to take deep, slow breaths, your body reacts in many positive ways:

#1 – Your muscles relax. You’ll find it’s difficult to maintain a lot of physical tension when you are breathing properly.

#2 – Oxygen delivery improves. When you breath deeply and you are relaxed, fresh oxygen pours into every cell in the body. This increases the functionality of every system in the body. You will also notice improved mental concentration and physical stamina.

# 3 – Your blood pressure lowers. As your muscles let go of tension, your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure can return to a normal level.

      #4 – Endorphins are released. Deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, which            improves feelings of well-being and provides pain-relief.

#5 – Detoxification improves. Good breathing habits help the lymphatic system function properly, which encourages the release of harmful toxins. This cleanses the body and allows it to direct its energy to more productive functions.

Deep breathing exercises are very easy to do if you take the time to do them properly. Here is a basic routine that will help you learn the ropes of deep breathing:

1. Lie down in a comfortable, quiet place. Allow yourself to be free from distractions for at least 5-10 minutes.

2. Give yourself a moment to start relaxing your muscles. Seek out places that are holding tension and release it.

3. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air. Bring the air into your abdomen, not just your chest. Count slowly to five as you inhale.

4. Exhale deeply, emptying your lungs completely. Again, count slowly to five as you exhale. As you exhale, release tension from your muscles.

5. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for several minutes, counting slowly to five each time. Concentrate on your breathing and counting. Let your mind take a break from distractions.

Try and do this exercise (or something similar) at least once a day. It really makes a difference!

TIPS FOR DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES:

– If you can’t find time to set aside just for deep breathing, then make a conscious effort to breath more deeply during everyday living, with a particular emphasis on exhaling completely, which is an important part of breathing properly.

– Place your hand on your abdomen to feel your way through the exercise. Your stomach should rise and fall noticeably while breathing.

– Some people find that white noise, relaxing music or the sound of rain is soothing and helps them relax for deep breathing exercises. Others find these distracting and prefer the quiet. Do some experimenting to find what helps you relax.

-Elizabeth W. 

How can Sports Massage help your performance and recovery???

Massage for sports injuries is a great way of taking care of injuries resulting from athletic activities. Massage therapy is an integral part of athlete training and is often included in modern sports training regimens. Athletes and trainers believe that regular therapeutic massages can provide the extra edge required for high performance sportsmen and women. It has become a necessary ingredient for an athlete to help avoid sports injuries and for optimum performance. However, sports injuries are part of being a high performance athlete and massage for sports injuries has become an increasingly popular alternative therapy for the treatment of these injuries.

Regular exercise increases muscular endurance and strength, improves flexibility and respiratory function and enhances heart efficiency. The body adapts gradually to the demand of physical activities. This is as a result of conditioning. Conditioning involves three phases: the tearing down phase where the body is pushed to its limit; the recovery phase where the body rebuilds itself, and, lastly, the build-up phase where the systems adapt to the new demands placed on the body. Massage for sports injuries is a particularly effective way of dealing with the injuries that occur in the tearing down phase.

Massage for sports injuries not only concentrates on sports injuries that have occurred, but can also help prevent injuries. Massage for sports injuries can, therefore, be administered before conditioning training as part of the regular workout regime. This helps to prevent injuries during training and should be administered after a warm up session. Massage for sports injuries can also help to prevent common injuries when administered after a strenuous training session as it helps to return the muscles to their relaxed state.

Massage for sports injuries is usually employed in the treatment of sprains and strains. Massage is also used in the treatment of sports injuries that are commonly known as trigger points. “Trigger points” are not bruises but are commonly thought of as knots in the muscles, or points of tension. Trigger points are painful to the touch. Massage for sports injuries help relieve the tension in these knots by helping to relax the muscle groups involved.

Several techniques are applied in an effective massage for sports injuries depending on the type of injury. The rhythmic compression of muscle groups is used in the creation of deep hyperemia. It also has the effect of softening the tissues and is used in warming the body up for a deeper massage. Friction techniques are also used, which can broaden and stretch larger muscle groups. These techniques are also used on connective tissue. The application of deep transverse friction helps improve the healing process in the muscles as well as connective tissue.

Trigger point pressure is relieved through thumb or finger pressure techniques. These techniques are effective for the reduction of hypersensitivity, pain and muscle spasms that are experienced at trigger points. This can help prevent a future injury because it will prevent the athlete from instinctively favoring one limb over the other due to painful trigger points, and from other knee-jerk reactions while on the field or track. Massage allows athletes to heal faster from injuries by improving circulation to the injured area. Massage also increases flexibility and the range of motion of athletes, reducing the occurrence of injuries.

Source: Pacific College of Oriental Medicince 

Cooper River Bridge Run & Massage for Runners

Gearing up for the Cooper River Bridge Run next weekend? Here is a great read by co-founder of Sport Medicine Institute, runner and sports massage therapist, Mark Fadil

As a runner for 28 years and a sports massage therapist for 19 years, I have spent a lot of time on both sides of a massage table. I received regular treatments at least once and often twice a week as a competitive distance runner in college; these massages varied from general work, to pre- and post-event, to injury-specific.

One of my most valuable assets as a sports massage therapist is the amount of work I received as an athlete and continue to receive today. It allowed me to develop a profound understanding of different types of sports massage and provided a foundation for fostering a comprehensive array of treatments and protocols. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial it is for massage therapists to experience regular massage treatments and different types of massage in order to enhance and develop their skills and techniques.

When Should a Runner Get a Massage?

I am frequently asked the question, “When is the best time for a runner to have a massage?” The answer is anything but straightforward and largely dependent on the objective of the client.

In general, there are four different categories of sports massage: pre-event, post-event, general sports and injury-specific. Each type of massage has a different goal. As a result, there are a number of right times for a runner to receive a sports massage, as long as the type of massage is administered correctly and is in line with your client’s goals.

Pre-Event Massage

Goal: To get the body ready for a race or event.

It is important to keep in mind that every client responds differently to massage. This is particularly salient when it comes to pre-event work. Some clients love to get really deep work the day before or even the day of an event; some prefer a light flush; others respond best to over-the-clothes compression; and some don’t want to be touched at all for the three or four days leading up to a race. It is important to experiment with pre-event work prior to a workout or less important race before implementing it as preparation for a more important competition.

That being said, in general, the day or two before a race a runner will usually benefit from light flushing work combined with compressions, rocking and shaking. Keep in mind that your client wants to come out of the massage feeling light, springy and energetic.

You can incorporate some deeper, specific strokes on a tight knot or band, but try to limit this to five to 10 passes per spot. The focused work tends to be most effective if you also incorporate some movements into the stroke such as pin-and-stretch or Active Release Techniques. It can also be useful to incorporate some dynamic stretching, such as Active Isolated Stretching, at the end of the session.

Post-Event Massage

Goal: To expedite recovery from a race and decrease post-exercise soreness. 

When administering a post-event massage—generally within 36 hours of a race or competition—keep in mind that your client has just put her body under a tremendous amount of stress. Muscles have undergone micro-trauma and tearing.

The massage should be on the lighter side but slightly deeper than pre-event work, with slow, controlled, flushing strokes. If the work is too deep it can damage muscles further and prolong how long it takes to recover from the event.

Incorporate a moderate amount of static stretching into the massage. One 30-second static hold after massaging a muscle or region is generally an effective approach. To top it off, have your client hop into an ice bath or cold whirlpool after the massage and stretching. The combination of a flushing massage, assisted static stretching and cold therapy is a great formula for decreasing post-exercise soreness and substantially speeding up recovery from a race or event.

General Massage for Runners

Goal: To loosen tight muscles, release trigger points, increase range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.

Runners tend to require and respond best to deeper work when receiving a general massage. This is where the art of massage becomes particularly important. Pay very close attention to what you are feeling in the tissue. Go deep enough to be effective but not so deep that it causes your client to tense up and fight the work. Some soreness for 24 to 36 hours after the massage is generally fine, but if it lasts longer or causes visible bruising, you have probably gone too deep.

Injury Massage

Goal: To facilitate healing of an injured muscle, tendon or ligament.

Massage on an injured muscle, tendon or ligament can be extremely effective if applied appropriately. It is always important to work in conjunction with a doctor or physical therapist so your client has a proper diagnosis and the massage is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Every injury is different, and the massage protocol will vary depending on the type and extent of the injury, but here are a few useful guidelines.

Tendinopathies should be treated two or three times a week. Work the muscle of the injured tendon with deep stripping strokes and perform cross-fiber friction on the tendon itself. It is also useful to utilize a tool such as a gua-sha tool or the one pictured below to scrape the tendon. End the massage by icing the injured tendon for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ligamentous injuries should be treated in a similar fashion to tendons. Make sure to work the muscles on both sides of the ligament with deep, stripping strokes before working on the ligament itself with cross-fiber friction and a tool.

When working on a strained muscle, sessions should be no more than twice a week. The muscle needs time to recover between sessions. In the beginning stages of the injury, work deeply around the injured area but limit the work on the injury itself to light flushing strokes. Incorporate light and very gentle static stretching as well. As the injury starts to heal, apply deeper and deeper pressure with cross fiber friction to the actual site of the injury. Gradually increase the intensity of the static stretch and eventually incorporate resistive stretching towards the end of the rehabilitation process.

Common Injuries for Runners

Iliotibial Band (IT Band)

One of the most common injuries for runners is iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. It is generally characterized by pain at the outside of the knee. A tight IT band can irritate the bursa at the lateral femoral condyle as well as the bone itself.

Treatment should include working all three of the gluteal muscles, tensor fasciae latae and the band itself down the outside of the leg between the greater trochanter and lateral femoral condyle. The IT band usually requires very deep work because of how dense it is. Positioning can play a crucial role in effective IT Band work (see picture 2). You should also check for tightness in the iliopsoas and the vastus lateralis as well. When a client has an IT band injury or chronic IT band tightness, there is almost always an associated weakness in the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

Achilles Tendinopathy

When treating an Achilles tendon problem, start with deep stripping of the gastrocnemius and soleusmuscles, since these muscles connect to the Achilles and can tug on the tendon when tight. Include side-lying work of the deep flexor compartment. This includes work on the tibialis posteriorflexor hallicus longus and flexor digitorum longus. Make sure you check the entire posterior chain of the leg for tightness, including the hamstring, glutes and intrinsic foot muscles on the plantar aspect of the foot.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is characterized by pain behind or around the kneecap. As the name implies, it is very common in runners, although not exclusive to runners. The underlying causes are often muscular imbalances in the four quad muscles. The vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris are tight and the vastus medialis obliques (VMO) are weak. The tight muscles should be loosened with massage and stretching, and the VMO should be strengthened. Incorporate cross-fiber friction on both the supra-patellar and infra-patellar tendons as well.

After the massage you should also stretch the quad without putting too much bend into the knee and then conclude with icing the knee for 10 to 15 minutes. You should also check for tightness in the iliopsoas, hamstrings and calves of the affected leg.

Plantar Fascia Pain

When treating plantar fascia pain and dysfunction, always start with deep stripping of the gastrocnemius, soleus and deep flexor compartment. Tightness in these muscles can tug on the calcaneus and increase the tension on the plantar fascia. You should also work on the plantar itself and intrinsic foot muscles. Include cross-fiber friction on the origin of the plantar fascia at the calcaneus. It can be particularly useful to incorporate use of a tool on the origin of the plantar fascia as well. Conclude the session with 10 to 15 minutes of icing the plantar itself.

Home Treatments

A key part of our responsibility as sports massage therapists and healers is empowering clients with knowledge and the ability to treat themselves as effectively as possible. Use of a foam roller and other home self-massage devices is a tremendous supplement to the work we perform in the clinic and makes our sessions even more beneficial. 

Lymphatic Massage; What is it, and who needs it?

The Benefits of Lymphatic Massage

Discover How To Boost Energy and Immunity

Six months after hip replacement surgery, Larry was learning to walk again and life was returning to normal. But one thing still puzzled him. When he stood for any length of time, his left ankle would swell, and when the inflammation was at its worst, his right ankle would also swell.

“I can understand why my left leg is swollen,” he says. “But why would my right leg swell? I didn’t have surgery there. And why am I getting swelling six months after the surgery? Shouldn’t it be better by now?” The answer is that although Larry’s surgery had occurred on the opposite side, the right leg would swell when the inflammation became too much for the left side to handle.

Fortunately, lymphatic massage can help address Larry’s problems. This special type of bodywork, while very gentle and seemingly superficial, helps to restore function to the lymph system and balance the body.

The Lymph System

Most people are familiar with the body’s vessel system that carries blood to and from the tissues, but few understand there is another equally vital system of vessels that removes cell wastes, proteins, excess fluid, viruses, and bacteria. The lymph system picks up fluids and waste products from the spaces between the cells and then filters and cleans them.

Like the roots of a tree, the lymph system starts as tiny vessels--only a single-cell wide--that eventually branch into larger and larger tubes that carry these fluids back to the blood stream. This network of delicate vessels and lymph nodes is the primary structure of the immune system. The lymph nodes act as check points along the pathways of the vessels. They filter the fluid (called lymph) and serve as the home for lymphocytes—little Pac Man-like cells that attack and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses and even abnormal cells, like cancer cells.

When the lymph system works well, we feel healthy and have a strong defense against illness. When it’s sluggish or blocked—say after surgery or an injury—we can have swelling, feel tired, and be more susceptible to colds and infections.

Lymphatic Massage

A customized form of bodywork, lymphatic massage may help the lymph system do its job better. By understanding the anatomy and function of this delicate system, your massage therapist can assist your body in clearing sluggish tissues of waste and swelling.

Though lymph vessels are found throughout the body, most of them—about 70 percent—are located just below the skin. These fragile vessels work to pick up fluids between the cell spaces when gentle pressure is applied to them from increased fluid build-up, muscle contractions, or the pressure of a therapist’s hands. By using very light pressures in a rhythmic, circular motion, a massage therapist can stimulate the lymph system to work more efficiently and help it move the lymph fluids back to the heart.

Furthermore, by freeing vessel pathways, lymphatic massage can help retrain the lymph system to work better for more long-term health benefits.

Massage therapists versed in lymphatic drainage therapy, an advanced form of lymphatic massage, can identify the rhythm, direction, and quality of the lymphatic flow and remap drainage pathways.

Who Should Get It?

Lymph massage can benefit just about everyone. If you're feeling tired and low on energy, or if you've been sick and feeling like your body is fighting to get back on track, lymph massage would likely serve you well.

In addition, athletes, surgical patients, fibromyaliga and chronic fatigue sufferers, as well as those wanting a fresh look may want to consider lymphatic massage. Here's why.

After a sports injury or surgery, lymph vessels can become overwhelmed with the demand placed on them. When tissues are swollen, deep tissue techniques may actually cause damage to the lymph vessels and surrounding structures. Lymphatic massage is often the treatment of choice, because it helps the body remove proteins and waste products from the affected area and reduce the swelling. This helps reduce pressure on cells and allows them to reproduce faster to heal the body.

Surgical procedures involving lymph node removal--such as breast cancer surgery--can cause limbs to swell. Severe limb swelling needs the attention of a medical team, but in milder cases, lymphatic massage alone may be enough to prevent or even treat the swelling. It’s important that your doctor be involved in your care. Let your doctor know you’d like to see a massage therapist and make sure you have medical approval.

Lymph massage can also be part of a care program for fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Because it's so gentle, it is well tolerated by these patients, who are often experiencing sore trigger points throughout the body. And by encouraging lymph flow and removing waste products, this gentle form of bodywork can help restore immune function and improve vitality.

Estheticians are trained in a very specific form of lymphatic massage. When you get a facial, your esthetician will gently massage your face to help improve lymph flow. When lymph is moving freely in the face, you’ll have clearer, healthier skin without a buildup of toxins and fluids.

So, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, experiencing mild to moderate swelling, recovering from a sports injury, or interested in optimizing your lymph system for stronger immunity, ask your massage therapist about lymphatic massage. It can have a powerful impact on your body’s ability to heal.

                                                                                                                                   By Cathy Ulrich

Prenatal Massage and Benefits!

Prenatal massage is therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the special needs of the mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of pregnancy. It enhances the function of muscles and joints, improves circulation and general body tone, and relieves mental and physical fatigue. The gentle, noninvasive approach of prenatal massage can ease discomfort associated with pregnancy, help the mother-to-be prepare for labor and give her nurturing emotional support.

Benefits for the body and mind

The benefits of prenatal massage include a wide range of physiological, emotional and psychological benefits.

  • Alleviates stress on weight-bearing joints and musculo-fascial structures
  • Assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy: muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, stiffness, tension and knots, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, heartburn and acid reflux, fatigue, varicose veins, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, edema of the lower extremities, neck pain, interscapular pain, sacroiliac and hip joint pain and constipation
  • Increases blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to both mother and fetus and stimulates the lymph system, thereby increasing immunity and removal of toxins
  • Stabilizes hormonal levels and helps relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes
  • Soothes and relaxes the nervous system by releasing endorphins into the mother’s body. As a result, the expectant mother feels more relaxed and at ease, and will also sleep more easily and more deeply
  • Assists in maintaining good posture and adjusting to a changing alignment caused by the baby’s increasing weight. Massage increases muscle tone and flexibility, enhancing the ability to carry this extra weight while also relieving aches and pains, leg cramps and muscle spasms
  • Eases the load on the heart and helps keep blood pressure in check
  • Enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues
  • Supports the return of blood to the heart and increases blood flow to the uterus and placenta. With the enormous demands placed on the circulatory system during pregnancy, blood volume may increase up to 60 percent compared to pre-pregnancy levels. As pregnancy progresses and the uterus enlarges and presses deep into the pelvic bowl, venous return to the heart is hampered
  • Prepares the mother-to-be for an easier delivery with its sedating effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and stress relief
  • Offers a natural, safe, drug-free alternative choice for pain relief, since taking medications are often limited during a pregnancy for the sake of the unborn child
  • In addition to the physical benefits, prenatal massage provides expecting women with the emotional support and nurturing touch provided by nonsexual human touch and energy.

Positioned for comfort

Prenatal massage can be performed by

  1. having an expectant woman lie on her side, propped up with pillows;
  2. utilizing specially designed maternity cushioning systems, which allow the expectant mother to lie on her stomach, supported by the cushions; or
  3. positioning the mother-to-be in a semi-reclining position propped up by pillows. 

Continued self-care

At the conclusion of the session, suggest that the mother-to-be practice self-massage and stretching sequences in between regular prenatal appointments. Encourage your client to schedule prenatal appointments every two weeks until the third trimester, when weekly appointments are recommended.

                                                                                                                             -By Ariana Vincent

The Amazing Benefits of a Far Infrared Sauna

I just started using the far infrared sauna about a week ago…and I’m sold! You can burn up to 600 calories in one hour and it’s a total detox! I interviewed America’s Integrative Pharmacist Dr. Lori about this topic and told her to send me a note about the benefits.

– Randy Alvarez / CEO The Wellness Hour Inc.

Dr. Lori wrote: Saunas have been used in Europe, especially the Scandinavian region, for hundreds of years. The Finns popularized sauna use by utilizing sauna for mental, spiritual and physical cleansing. In the United States, Native American Indians used “sweat lodges” for cleansing and purifying, recognizing the benefit of a sweat, as well. For centuries, our ancestors have experienced the tremendous benefit of using saunas. 

What’s the difference between a traditional and far-infrared sauna?

Traditional sauna uses heat and humidity to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. There are increasingly more controlled studies being completed utilizing “Far”-infrared sauna (FIS). FIS uses light to create heat and only heats 20% of the air, leaving 80% of the heat available to heat the body. This in turn warms the body more efficiently at lower temperatures with warm and dry heat, making FIS more accessible to people who cannot tolerate the excessive heat and humidity seen in traditional sauna. By breathing cooler air, many users of FIS report a feeling of warmth and well-being as an after effect.

The appeal of saunas is that they cause reactions, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate, similar to those experienced during moderate exercise. FIS may induce up to 2 to 3 times the volume of sweat produced in a traditional sauna while operating at significantly cooler temperatures. In addition, infrared heat panels are so safe that they are even used in hospital nurseries to warm newborns.

What are the benefits of using a sauna?

Many medical journals tout the benefits of sauna. In an article published in 1981 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), the authors found that “regular use of sauna may impact a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective, as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories, as regular exercise.” In 1982, JAMA authors noted, “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna, consuming nearly 300 kcal, which is equivalent to running 2-3 miles. A heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600-800 kcal with no adverse effects. While the weight of the water loss can be regained by drinking water, the calories consumed will not be.”

“Far”-infrared sauna is great for the traditional uses of meditation and detoxification. Detoxification of the body can optimize the efficiency of the immune system. Toxins in the body can accumulate in the skin and the liver and sweating is one of the body’s natural ways to remove toxins. As a result, detox helps avoid disease, prevent illness and improve general health and vitality. FIS heats the body from the core, therefore, it allows you to sweat up to 7 times more toxins than traditional saunas. Daily sweating can help detox the body as it rids itself of accumulated heavy metals as well as alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and sulfuric acid. FIS helps with acne by purifying the skin and cleansing the pores thus ridding accumulated dirt, cosmetics, blackheads and dry skin cells. Less toxins in the skin means healthier skin with improvements in skin complexion, tone, texture, elasticity and overall appearance.

A weight loss benefit can be seen with FIS. Studies show that just 30 minutes can burn upwards of 600 calories! When using FIS core body temperature increases and the body works hard to cool it down which then causes an increase in heart rate, metabolic rate and cardiac output allowing you to burn calories while you relax. Cardiac improvement can be seen in congestive heart failure, and improved circulation benefits individuals with high blood pressure, sciatica, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. FIS can help you maintain healthy levels of your stress hormones, like cortisol, thus leading to relaxation, better sleep and an overall feeling of being refreshed and rejuvinated. FIS works by deeply penetrating joints, muscle and tissues, which increase circulation and speeds oxygen flow. Many physicians recommend FIS for pain relief and to athletes for sports injuries, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain syndromes.

In 2009, authors published a study in Clinical Rheumatology. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis were treated with infrared sauna.  After 4 weeks and a total of 8 treatments, pain and stiffness decreased significantly and improvement was seen in fatigue. In yet another article published in 1994 in Respiration, authors found “sauna therapy can help respiration in patients with asthma and bronchitis, and lung function was improved in patients with COPD”. Japanese and Chinese practitioners have utilized FIS and have noted benefit in the following:  Arthritis (TMJ, Traumatic, Rheumatoid, DJD), compression fractures, muscle tension and spasms, post-exercise muscle pain, bursitis, low-back pain and lumbar strain, menstrual pain, joint stiffness and eczema.

Depending on the degree of detoxification needed, benefit with “far”-infrared sauna was seen in many studies in as little as 15-30 minutes 3 to 5 times weekly. In patients who require a higher degree of detoxification, daily treatment may be more beneficial. By utilizing detoxification through diet and FIS, in addition to the restoration of necessary levels of nutrients, optimal healing and well-being can be accomplished.

Dr. Lori – America’s Integrative Pharmacist

Dr. Lori Arnold, Pharm.D., FAARM, is “America’s Integrative Pharmacist.” She has established her expertise in pharmacy practice in traditional medicine, and has a passion and love for natural, functional, holistic and integrative medicine. She has a desire to “integrate” the traditional and the functional approach to medicine and has a vision to have these schools of thought coexist. Dr. Lori has set forth on a mission to educate healthcare practitioners and patients on nutrition, wellness and longevity and believes in the body’s amazing ability to heal itself. Dr. Lori is an advocate for practitioners who “talk the talk, and walk the walk.”

Dr. Lori’s love for the medical field started at a very young age. She was diagnosed with asthma at six years old. Growing up in a small farming community of Hettinger, North Dakota, the prevalence of childhood illnesses was high. Much time was spent in and out of the hospital being treated for acute exacerbations, and multiple trips to specialists for allergy regimens and injections. It was then that she developed a personal fondness and respect for her physicians, nurses and pharmacists and knew she was destined for a career in health.

Dr. Lori attended Montana Tech of the University of Montana and received an Associate’s Degree in Chemistry. She went on to attend the University of Montana School of Pharmacy, in Missoula, Montana. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 1999, and completed her Doctorate degree in Pharmacy in 2000. Dr. Lori was very active in Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, American Pharmacist’s Association (APhA), and American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). Through her involvement in APhA, she was awarded a grant to develop an asthma support group and education, and went on to become the youngest member of the Board of Directors for the American Lung Association of Montana and North Dakota.

Dr. Lori Arnold’s career as a pharmacist has included a variety of practice settings, including clinical hospital practice, home care and infusion services, community practice, specialized medication therapy management, academic mentorship, and most recently, medical affairs with pharmaceutical industry.

After obtaining her Pharm.D., Dr. Lori returned to North Dakota. She worked as a clinical pharmacist in the hospital setting. While there, she took pride in developing new protocols, guidelines and processes that improved patient care, while offering education to the medical staff.  She avidly participated in several internal committees including: Investigational Review Board, Internal Marketing Committee, JCAHO Steering Committee, Bioethics Committee, Committee and Employee Activities Committee. She was a volunteer for the local hospice and dedicated time to helping patients and families with comfort care measures and provided education on pain management to local and state hospice meetings. She also spent time working with the local long-term care facilities on a consultant basis.

Dr. Lori moved to California in 2003. She spent a year as Director of Pharmacy for a home infusion pharmacy in Palm Springs. She then returned to clinical hospital practice where she remained an active patient advocate for seven years. Dr. Lori polished her inpatient skills and created a position as Medication Safety and Compliance Officer, where she practiced in this setting for 4 years. She was very active in numerous internal committees and provided ongoing education to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and students. She also spent time as a per-diem pharmacist for a Medication Therapy Management anticoagulation clinic. During this time, she also held a 3 year position as Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy. In addition, Dr. Lori’s love for community service landed her in Ibarra, Ecuador, in July 2009, for a medical mission with the International Medical Alliance (IMA).

In 2010, Dr. Lori accepted a position with medical affairs for the pharmaceutical industry where she prepares and delivers scientific seminars to medical professionals. She spent 1 year as an educator in the cardiovascular disease state, atrial fibrillation, and was transferred to the disease state of diabetes a year later. With the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, or as Dr. Mark Hyman calls it, “Diabesity”, more and more attention needs to be focused on helping educate patients and practitioners on the appropriate treatment of this condition.

Dr. Lori has always had a strong desire to learn about the functional approach to wellness, therefore, in 2010 she attended her first natural medicine conference with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (A4M). This meeting lit a fire.  Within eight months, Dr. Lori completed a fellowship and became a board certified pharmacist with A4M. She continues to develop her intense interest in herbs, supplements and other complementary therapies. She has a personal appreciation of the need for an “integrative” approach to health and healing, which encompasses nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. This has led to the creation of “America’s Integrative Pharmacist.” Dr. Lori has made several appearances on The Wellness Hour, and highlights educational efforts through her social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube.

Far Infrared Sauna vs. Near Infrared Sauna

NEAR INFRARED VS. FAR INFRARED SAUNAS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Posted by JNH Lifestyle on July 11, 2017

 

With many famous people praising the health benefits of the infrared sauna, you have to wonder if these units live up to the hype, or if they’re just another Hollywood trend. The debate is made even more complex with proponents of near and far infrared saunas (FIR) insisting that one is particularly more beneficial and safer to use than the other.

What’s the difference?

Despite the fact that these two wavelengths are from the same IR spectrum, they represent different spectral regions. The near infrared (NIR) spectra is electromagnetic radiation usually used for visible light inspection because of its rather short wavelength. Meanwhile, at the opposite end, FIR is no longer in the visible spectrum. The only way you’ll know it’s there is when you feel the heat that it emits.

 

Though both IR spectra are being used by modern saunas as their heat source, there is no denying that the far-infrared sauna is far more superior, regardless of what your fitness instructor tells you. After all, only FIR saunas are backed by moderate, peer-reviewed research that shows evidence of their many health benefits.

Relief for chronic diseases?

As opposed to NIR saunas, which lack any scientific studies in support of its claimed superiority, there are ongoing studies on the medical effects of FIR saunas on the human body. Claims that FIR saunas can potentially help with the treatment of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases are generally supported by numerous scientific papers, published by known and licensed medical professionals.

Meanwhile, Asian countries - Japan, China, and Taiwan - are conducting extensive studies on the use of far infrared to enhance blood flow, alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus, provide relief for both acute and chronic pain, alleviate stress, and generally improve overall health. In the West, both Harvard Medical School in the U.S., University of Jyäskylä in Finland, and The College of Family Physicians of Canada are dedicating a fair amount of effort to dig deeper into the medical benefits of FIR saunas.

While a simple Google search might bombard you with position papers written by so-called health and wellness experts touting NIR, don't rush your purchasing decision. You are better off buying equipment that is substantiated, corroborated, and supported by reputable medical and scientific sources. Far-infrared saunas have shown to be the wiser choice for personal use when it comes to wellness.

Sources:

Far-infrared therapy: a novel treatment to improve access blood flow and unassisted patency of arteriovenous fistula in hemodialysis patients, NationalHealthInstitute.gov
Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men, NationalHealthInstitute.gov
Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: summary of published evidence, NationalHealthInstitute.gov

Massage Therapy and Pain Management

Incorporating massage therapy into comprehensive pain management programs may yield better outcomes.

By Brenda L. Griffith

A growing body of research shows massage therapy can be an effective part of pain relief and management. This research data, and the experience of physicians, massage therapists, and patients should encourage pain specialists to consider incorporating massage therapy into their pain management programs.

Some base findings about the value of massage therapy for pain relief have included the following:

  1. According to Cherkin, Eisenberg, et. al. in the April 2001 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine,1 massage is effective for providing long-lasting relief for patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
  2. Data collected nearly 10 years ago indicates that therapeutic massage promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.2 Recent studies have confirmed the findings and others indicate positive effects for massage in decreasing pain intensity among cancer patients.3
  3. In 1990, Jensen et al. published data indicating that massage was better than cold pack treatment of post-traumatic headaches.4 The October 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health reports that new research by Quinn, Chandler and Moraska showed muscle-specific massage therapy is effective for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headaches.5
  4. A pilot study in 2000, conducted by Gregory P. Fontana, MD at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, found that massage reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have multiple incisions. When surveyed, 95 percent of patients felt that massage therapy was a crucial part of their hospital experience, while need for medications dropped on days they received a massage.

In the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals: The Official Handbook of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), updated in August 2000, recommends massage as a non-pharmacological therapy that can be used successfully in pain management. Some hospitals, because of public demand, are including massage therapists on patient care teams to fight pain. The teams may include a physician, several nurses, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor, a chaplain, and a massage therapist. More research needs to be done to evaluate the effectiveness of such teams and the optimum combination of therapies for different types of patients and different types of pain.

The effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause. Massage therapists utilize a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue — their care is not focused solely at the site of pain.

Another benefit of massage therapy — from a patient perspective — is that it helps patients become more aware of their bodies and better familiarize them with the pain they experience. The massage therapist not only helps relieve muscle and other soft tissue pain, but also has an impact on the patient by virtue of human touch. This is especially pronounced for women facing mastectomies and dealing with the outcomes of that surgery. While women directly benefit from various forms of massage that focus on lymph drainage and muscle pain, massage also helps them feel comfortable once again with their bodies, improves their confidence and allows them to better deal with pain.

Although more research is needed to confirm the optimal uses of massage, the potential for a positive impact on patients with acute or chronic pain is clear. As it stands, enough research exists to encourage pain management specialists and massage therapists to forge professional relationships. These pain management relationships should exist in the hospital, in clinics, in private practice offices and in home care.

Longevity Wellness: Massage and Bodywork Expansion Annoucement

To All Current and Prospective Clients,

We are so happy to formally announce the expansion of our massage therapy office! This change would never have been possible without the continued support from you all. This new chapter will bring many positive changes and we just know you will want to be here for the ride! We still have the same mission in mind to be your medical massage therapy provider and whether we solve your problem in one appointment or you choose to take advantage of one of our treatment packages or massage/ sauna memberships, we will provide you with the in office and self care tools to identify your target areas and maintain the benefits of your treatment.

As many of you know, our expansion is taking place in the same office; we are taking over the larger portion of our suite in the Indigo Place Plaza Mt Pleasant. This means that you will not have to worry about traveling to a new location to receive our services and can enjoy the many benefits of our larger space. Our centrally located office allows us to provide our massage therapy and bodywork services to the greater Charleston area and is a quick ride from downtown Charleston, West of the Ashley, and accessible from the North Charleston and Summerville area, being located close to 526 access.   Some of these benefits will include:

  • Larger reception and common area for a comfortable and relaxing environment
  • New massage therapists to join the team bringing different modalities to our already  skilled massage therapy staff
  • A two-person infrared sauna in addition to our existing single-person infrared sauna. This two-person sauna means that you may enjoy time with a partner while receiving the many benefits of the sauna (detoxification, pain relief, weight loss, relaxation, improved circulation, skin purification and much more)
  • Stretch room for stretch therapy, one on one stretching instruction, small group self care classes, postural evaluations, a necessary assessment for those who are looking to see what muscles are tight or restricted, and what muscles need to be strengthened
  • Foam rolling instructional classes for muscular tension relief.

There is so much more coming in the following weeks and we cannot wait to see our dreams come to fruition!

Please stay tuned for an open house announcement as we are also celebrating our 4-year anniversary! Thank you all again for your support. We are so excited!

Longevity Wellness Team

NFL Player Uses Cupping to Cope

By: Peter Gwin

Photographer: Fritz Hoffmann

New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison knows about pain—KNOWS about it. For more than two decades, he has been delivering and receiving crushing blows on football fields. The violence has taken its toll, including a serious back injury six years ago that required multiple surgeries. Nevertheless, Sunday night, at age 39, he will step onto the field for Super Bowl LII as the reigning oldest defensive player in professional football.

Last spring, photographer Fritz Hoffmann and I visited him in Arizona to document his offseason workouts (lots of power lifts) and meticulous health routine (no alcohol, refined sugar, or processed carbs). In between his mammoth weightlifting sessions, we asked him his secret for playing such a brutal game at such a high level for so long. “Ain’t no damn secret, man. HARD WORK, lots of hard work!”

Well that, and a lot of attention to caring for his body. Harrison said he spends about $350,000 a year employing a team of specialists, including massage therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors, who help manage the punishment his body endures. (He noted that it’s a tax-deductible business expense.)

His interest in alternative treatments goes back to his childhood. “I was in a car accident when I was about eight or nine. It messed something up, knocked me out of alignment. My father’s boss’s brother was a chiropractor, and I started going to see him. I’ve seen a chiropractor from that point through the rest of my life.” Over the years he’s tried several different chiropractors. “I can tell as soon as a new guy puts his hands on me if he knows what’s he’s doing,” said Harrison.

His current chiropractor lives in Denver, and Harrison flies him in twice a week during the season for treatments. He also flies in Lisa Ripi, an acupuncturist from New York, and Codi Hoos, a massage therapist based in Tempe who uses cupping, an ancient therapy practiced for centuries in China. Plastic cups are placed over certain muscles, and little plungers on the cups allow the air to be sucked out creating a vacuum that pulls blood out of the muscles and leaves round, crimson bruises on his skin. The combination of all the different treatments, Harrison said, reduces muscle soreness and allows his body to bounce back quicker from his intense workouts and practice sessions.

I mentioned to Harrison that scientists are skeptical about chiropractic treatments, cupping, and some of the other therapies he uses. Harrison shrugged. “All I know is before I get treated, I HURT, and after, I feel better.”

His teammate quarterback Tom Brady is also a believer in what many consider alternative medicine. A year older and among the NFL’s oldest offensive players, Brady employs his own strict diet and regimen of therapies. These, he has said, have allowed him to keep competing past the age when most players’ bodies break down.

“Some guys do some of the things I do,” said Harrison. “Some don’t. Players try different things. You have to find what works for your body and be committed,” said Harrison. “Guys come to me and tell me they want to do what I do. I tell them the price, and they say, ‘I’m not going to give someone $10,000 for a season of treatments.’ But they’ll run their ass to the club and drop $5,000 or $10,000 on a table,” he shakes his head. “And you can’t write that off.”

Massage Therapy has Grown in National Cancer Institute-Designated Health Systems

By: Karen Menehan, MassageMag

A cancer patient might face such medical procedures as surgery, medication and chemotherapy, as well as ongoing treatment post-recovery.

Increasingly, therapies such as massage are used to mitigate pain and anxiety.

A new analysis of U.S. cancer centers’ websites indicates massage, along with acupuncture, consultations about nutrition and dietary supplements are the integrative therapies most commonly offered in National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated health systems.

Additionally, the analysis found a statistically significant increase in the number of websites mentioning integrative therapies, including massage therapy, on those systems’ websites in the last 12 years.

MASSAGE Magazine spoke with a leading oncology massage educator to help determine the reasons behind this growth.

Growth of Oncology Massage

The analysis states that the most common integrative medicine therapies offered in the NCI-designated health systems are consultations about nutrition (91.1 percent), dietary supplements (84.4 percent) meditation and yoga (68.9 percent each), massage therapy and acupuncture (73.3 percent each) and herbs (66.7 percent).

“Compared with 2009, there was a statistically significant increase in the number of websites mentioning acupuncture, dance therapy, healing touch, hypnosis, massage, meditation, Qigong and yoga,” according to the authors of “Growth of Integrative Medicine at Leading Cancer Centers Between 2009 and 2016: A Systematic Analysis of NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Websites.”

Reasons for Growth

Johnnette du Rand Kelly is a massage therapist who practices oncology massage. She is also founding director of Greet The Day, a Newport Beach, California-based organization that provides therapies for adult and pediatric cancer patients and provides education for licensed professionals.

MASSAGE Magazine: The authors of the analysis mentioned that conventional cancer treatments can produce challenging effects like hot flashes, nausea and fatigue. How does massage therapy benefit cancer patients?

Johnnette du Rand Kelly: Research shows that massage reduces pain and anxiety.

When a cancer patient or family member asks me about the benefits of massage, I often like to also add that it is touch that feels good at a time when touch often does not, and that massage is a reminder for the patient that they can feel better, possibly even good, at a time when their body hurts.

Being able to meet the basic human need of safe and comforting touch is in and of itself therapeutic.

MM: In your experience, what has the response been by cancer patients to massage therapy? Are they aware of it, do they feel better after receiving it, do they request it?

JK: In both in- and out-patient settings, patients’ response to massage is, unsurprisingly, very welcoming and overwhelmingly receptive.

In the two academic cancer centers that Greet The Day works in, the patients who are aware of massage as an available service regularly request it. For others, it’s a pleasant surprise to be offered massage as a part of their care.

In the centers where we work the demand for massage outweighs the service availability, so at times the massage program feels like the best-kept secret at the cancer center.

MM: In your experience, why is there a trend toward more medical centers offering integrative therapies?

JK: As much as I’d like to say the trend toward more medical centers offering integrative therapies hinges on empathy and compassion in health care, I think it rests more on consumer demand, budget and workflow management.

Patients and the clinical staff who work with those patients are first-hand witnesses to—and already understand the benefits of—massage and other integrative therapies in in- and out-patient settings.

I think the growth that we are seeing with more medical centers offering integrative therapies such as massage for their patients hinges on patient request, aka client demand, situations where patient satisfaction scores can positively influence hospital federal funding, and the recognition of hospital administrators that massage not only feels good but does the patient good—and that the happier the patient is the less demanding they are on clinical staff time, which in turn helps better manage work load demand for nursing staff.

MM: What is the next step toward greater implementation of massage therapy in cancer-focused health care?

JK: The benefits of inpatient massage programs are well understood and fairly well established nationwide.

I think the next step necessities in supporting the development of these types of integrative care services for cancer patients are learning how to incorporate accredited continuing education for clinical staff on the value and benefits of integrative care for their patients, and recognizing the value of massage for cancer patients in the outpatient setting as a national norm.

During the course of cancer treatment, patients visit infusion treatment centers many times, and each of those visits often takes three hours and upwards.

As many patients as massage can reach in the inpatient setting, having massage available to cancer patients in outpatient settings would exponentially … expand the population served.

I think that focusing on the development of massage therapist competencies in infusion center massage delivery and as a contributing member of the health care team should be our next goal in helping mainstream health care delivery expand the reach of integrative care massage programs. (Editor’s note: Read “Your Guide to Employment in Oncology Massage” in the February 2018 print issue of MASSAGE Magazine.)

Analysis Citation: Hyeongjun Yun, Lingyun Sun, Jun J. Mao; “Growth of Integrative Medicine at Leading Cancer Centers Between 2009 and 2016: A Systematic Analysis of NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Websites,” JNCI Monographs, Volume 2017, Issue 52, 1 November 2017.