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Article (Added on 7/28/2012)

Couples Massage Classes, by Moriah Gilmore Gause

One of the greatest gifts we can give to another is the gift of our presence and attention. One of the best ways to give our attention is to learn to listen in a different way. We can listen not only with our ears, but with our sense of touch as well. Through touch, we can listen to the physical needs of others. Our muscles speak to our habits and comfort level. One of the common signs of generalized stress is tension in the upper shoulders. If we are working on a computer or other activity that requires our hands to be held out in front of us for any length of time, you will typically find tension in the neck and between the shoulder blades. Men tend to carry heavy loads that cause tension in the lower back.

One excellent way to alleviate this tension is through massage. We all know going to get a massage can be relaxing and beneficial to our overall health, but wouldn’t it be a much different experience to be able to get this much needed relief from someone you know, or even better someone you are in a relationship with? Massage isn’t this mystical science whose skills are only available to certain people. We can learn to help each other feel more comfortable in our day to day lives, as well as prevent stress build up. The answer is learning how to give a better massage to another person. Not only do others benefit from you learning how to give better massages, but you also learn how to listen to your body better. By listening to your body better, you can alleviate a lot of muscle stress through stretching and basic movement.

A wonderful option is to take Couples Massage Classes where you can learn how to give your partner a better massage. Couples massage classes are a great way to gain confidence in your ability to give a good massage. Giving a good massage is a great way to show your partner love by helping them feel better and relaxing their muscles. It also helps couples to learn how to communicate their needs and desires of how they want to be touched. In addition to being hands on, you may also get materials such as diagrams to help you remember the direction of the strokes you will be learning for the various areas of the body. Classes are also a good way to learn how to get better pressure in your massage without hurting your hands, a regular complaint for women, since men typically require more pressure in a massage. Also included in classes are how to get better blood circulation to help flush away lactic acid build up that causes restriction of movement.

When looking into classes, be sure to ask if they can be changed to fit the needs and desires you are looking for. Perhaps one couple uses the class time to learn how to do facilitated stretching techniques for one another. Another couple may use their class time for just one person to work on their massage skills, allowing more education in the allotted time, since they do not swap places half way through the class. Maybe you and your partner would like to use the class time to learn the basics of Reflexology, so you can give each other treatments throughout the week as needed. Or a bridesmaid could take the class with the bride-to-be, so she could help the bride relax prior to the wedding and the bride will surprise her husband-to-be on their wedding night, with her new knowledge and skills in giving massage.

Even better, the classes can provide you with a location with many times the company that offers the classes may also offer wedding packages available for bridal showers or wedding parties, so everyone gets in on the relaxing fun. So when looking for a nice gift for your spouse-to-be, a bride-to-be, or even yourself, consider giving a gift that is also a skill that can be used forever.


Article (Added on 2/27/2009)

Learn

Introduction to Massage

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

So What Is It Exactly?

Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body. Specifically:

Massage: The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.

Bodywork: Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.

Somatic: Meaning “of the body.” Many times this term is used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only or environmental perspective.

There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin. Click here for more information on what to expect.

Please note: Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies specifically exclude diagnosis, prescription, manipulation or adjustments of the human skeletal structure, or any other service, procedure or therapy which requires a license to practice orthopedics, physical therapy, podiatry, chiropractic, osteopathy, psychotherapy, acupuncture, or any other profession or branch of medicine.

Will My Insurance Cover It?

The services of a bodywork professional may be covered by health insurance when prescribed by a chiropractor or osteopath. Therapies provided as part of a prescribed treatment by a physician or registered physical therapist are often covered.

Article (Added on 2/28/2009)

When to Stretch - Why Experts Recommend Athletes Stretch After Exercise

Research finds that it's better to stretch after exercise and warm up before

By Elizabeth Quinn, About.com

November 12, 2008

Recommendations to stretch or not retch to stchange from year to year and from expert to expert. And there is limited evidence to sort out these conflicting opinions. Stretching has been promoted for years as an essential part of a fitness program as a way to decrease the risk of injury, prevent soreness and improve performance. But what does the evidence support?

Stretching and Muscle Soreness After Exercise

New research suggests that stretching doesn't prevent muscle soreness after exercise. Researchers Robert Herbert, Ph.D., and Marcos de Noronha, Ph.D. of the University of Sydney conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 previously published studies of stretching either before or after athletic activity. They concluded that stretching before exercise doesn't prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. They also found little support for the theory that stretching immediately before exercise can prevent either overuse or acute sports injuries.

Warm up vs. Stretching

Much of this confusion comes from a misinterpretation of research on warm up. These studies found that warming by itself has no effect on range of motion, but that when the warm up is followed by stretching there is an increase in range of motion. Many people misinterpreted this finding to mean that stretching before exercise prevents injuries, even though the clinical research suggests otherwise. A better interpretation is that warm up prevents injury, whereas stretching has no effect on injury.

If injury prevention is the primary objective the evidence suggests that athletes should limit the stretching before exercise and increase the warm up time.

Studies do support that range of motion can be increased by a single fifteen to thirty second stretch for each muscle group per day. However, some people require a longer duration or more repetitions. Research also supports the idea that the optimal duration and frequency for stretching may vary by muscle group.

The long-term effects of stretching on range of motion show that after six weeks, those who stretch for 30 seconds per muscle each day increased their range of motion much more than those who stretched 15 seconds per muscle each day. No additional increase was seen in the group that stretched for 60 seconds. Another 6 week study conducted found that one hamstring stretch of 30 seconds each day produced the same results as three stretches of 30 seconds.

These studies support the use of thirty second stretches as part of general conditioning to improve range of motion.

To get the most from your stretching customize your routine to fit your needs. One way to do this is to stretch until you feel slight pulling but no pain. As you hold the stretch the muscle will relax. As you feel less tension you can increase the stretch again until they feel the same slight pull. Hold this position until you feel no further increase.

If you do not seem to gain any range of motion using the above technique, you may consider holding the stretch longer (up to 60 seconds).

What Stretch is Best?

In general, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching has resulted in greater increases in range of motion compared with static or ballistic stretching, though some results have not been statistically significant.

Static stretches are a bit easier to do and appear to have good results. Studies indicate that continuous stretching without rest may be better than cyclic stretching (applying a stretch, relaxing, and reapplying the stretch), however some research shows no difference.

Most experts believe ballistic, or bouncing during a stretch, is dangerous because the muscle may reflexively contract if restretched quickly following a short relaxation period. Such eccentric contractions are believed to increase the risk of injury.

In addition to improving range of motion, stretching is extremely relaxing and most athletes use stretching exercises to maintain a balance in body mechanics. But one of the biggest benefits of stretching may be something the research can't quantify: it just feels good.

Sources:

Herbert RD, de Noronha M. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4.

Andersen, J. C. Stretching Before and After Exercise: Effect on Muscle Soreness and Injury Risk. Journal of Athletic Training 40(2005): 218-220

Witvrouw, Erik, Nele Mahieu, Lieven Danneels, and Peter McNair. Stretching and Injury Prevention An Obscure Relationship. Sports Medicine 34.7(2004): 443-449

Ian Shrier MD, PhD and Kav Gossal MD. The Myths and Truths of Stretching: Individualized Recommendations for Healthy Muscles, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, VOL 28, #8, August 2000.

Article (Added on 8/14/2012)

What You Need to Know About Deep Tissue Massage

By Cathy Wong, About.com

November 12, 2008

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.

How Does Deep Tissue Massage Work?

When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.

Will Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.

It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you ecperience is outside your comfort range.

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Ostearthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm

According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.

What Can I Expect During My Visit?

Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.

You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas.

It is important to drink plenty of water as you can after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.

Precautions

Massage is not recommended for certain people:

  • infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
  • immediately after surgery
  • immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
  • people with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before getting a massage
  • prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
  • pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
  • massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.

Additional tips

  • don't eat a heavy meal before the massage
  • if it's your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.
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