There’s no escaping the truth; winter is here. The days are shorter and the sweaters have come out of the wardrobe. It’s not unusual for people to get the ‘winter blues’ – which is a condition many people in the northern hemisphere are afflicted with due to lack of sunlight during the colder and darker winter months. The good news for everyone is that massage therapy can help increase health happiness for everyone during the cooler months of the year. Here a few reasons why…
Massage May Help to Banish Seasonal Affective Disorder
As we’ve mentioned, Seasonal Affective Disorder – sometimes known as the winter blues – is a problem for many people when there’s less natural sunlight. This is because sunlight causes the brain to release a feel-good chemical called serotonin that improves our mood. When there’s less sunlight, less serotonin is produced, which can lead to low mood, lethargy and feeling like it's difficult to get out of bed in the morning. In some people it can even cause depression serious enough to warrant visiting a doctor. It’s not a happy place to be, but the good news is that booking regular massage can help to lift a low mood. A regular massage session will help to relax stressed minds and bodies, as well as releasing the serotonin and endorphins, the same chemicals produced by the body when you’re happy.
It Can Give Your Circulation A Boost
Massage therapy may also help boost circulation during a time of the year when nobody wants to get up and go outside for a run. Everybody knows that getting regular exercise helps keep circulation running smoothly, and also gets the oxygenated blood pumped around our bodies faster. A lack of movement in the winter months can result in feeling sluggish, and poor circulation can lead to lethargy, aches and pains. Here’s where a massage has extra benefits; it can help blood to pass through any congested areas and boosts overall flow, which also helps the lymphatic system to remove waste that builds up. At the same time, massage is well known to help decrease blood pressure.
It May Help Your Body to Fight Off Minor Infections
For anybody that’s prone to suffering from colds during the winter season, massage might be useful for prevention. It’s been found that massage sessions can help to boost the effectiveness of the immune system, helping to fight off the normal bugs and viruses that circulate this time of year. A gentle massage of the area around the lymph nodes also encourages white blood cells to circulate, and as massage increases blood flow it also stimulates the white blood cells to start fighting any infection in your body.
These are just a few of the many benefits that massage therapy can bring during winter. Of course, there’s also the feel-good aspect of a warming hot stone massage, delicious aromatic massage oils, and even just the act of taking time out to look after yourself when you need it.
Otherwise known as aromatherapy massage, a massage using essential oils is a real treat, and has many positive effects that make it a treat worth investing in. There are two main reasons why a massage therapist may use essential oils in their treatments:
• The essential oils used in massage can have beneficial effects on your body and overall health.
• They smell great.
But the aroma isn’t just a pleasant addition to your treatment. By inhaling the oils and applying them topically, you can receive multiple layers of benefits. Essential oils can have physiological effects like helping to relieve muscle tension and stiffness, reduce muscle spasm, and enhance circulation. They can also have psychological and emotional benefits such as helping individuals cope with pain, reduce stress and relax, and improve mood.
Essential oils and pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you should always tell your massage therapist before an aromatherapy massage because although essential oils are safe in the vast majority of cases, there are a few specific essential oils that are best avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Essential oils and pain relief
Using essential oils in a massage is ideal if you’re experiencing symptoms like inflammation or pain. The aromatherapy adds an extra layer of benefit to a soothing massage and seems to magnify the effects of a treatment which can give you even more relief than a basic massage.
Essential oils and stress
Just breathing in the relaxing scent of lavender essential oil can calm you down and help you sleep. Lavender essential oil is great for pain relief and widely used in stress-busting massage treatments.
So what is an aromatherapy massage like?
The first thing you’ll need to do is have a talk with your therapist about what you are hoping to get from your massage, and explain all about any existing health conditions so that they can choose the best combination of oils for you. There are pre-blended mixes of essential oils for general use, but many therapists also make up their own mixes for each session.
When therapists are putting together a custom blend, they will often ask you to pick a fragrance that makes you feel good. There’s not much point in creating perfectly blended massage oil for you if you don't enjoy the smell of it and can’t wait to get off the massage table!
If there’s any of your custom blended oil left after your massage, you’ll be given the rest to take home and use, which is a definite bonus. After an aromatherapy massage you’re likely to feel absolutely amazing – not only have you had the physical benefits of a therapeutic massage but the psychological boost that you’ll get from the essential oils as well.
What’s your favorite aromatherapy oil?
When we’re deep in the cold, wet clutches of winter, all we can think of is the lazy, hazy summer days. Picnics, barbecues, days spent lounging outside, and sunshine are all we remember from the last summer.
Then, when we reach summer time, we remember that summer has stresses of its own. Who hasn’t day dreamed about the last summer vacation but forgotten the fact that driving hours to get there left the entire family hot, cranky and dehydrated? Or that on the second day of the break, one of the kids had an allergic reaction to a bug bite and spent the entire week whining about it itching?
With the kids at home, the planned fun and games can also turn into fighting and complaining about being bored. Some days you just wish it was fall already! That’s why, whether you have kids or not, and wherever you are planning to spend time this summer, you need to schedule in some down time. Summer can really stress you out, so making sure that you’re well prepared with pre-vacation treatments and a massage or two to give you some extra relaxation and also help you make your summer holiday about you as well as everybody else.
Remember that even if you are always planning things for the whole family, you deserve some time to yourself too. It might be a cliché that gets over used but there is a lot of truth to the statement ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ – get your fix of self-care up front and you’ll feel much more equipped to give to everyone else.
Top Tips for Stress-Free Summer Months:
Spend time in the sunshine – it really does improve your mood. Load up on sun screen and head out into the back yard with a book and a cool drink, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Get the kids out on a play date and make some time for you.
Sneak in a nap – sleep can be compromised over the summer when the temperatures rise, so if you have an opportunity in the day time for a nap, take it and stock up in advance on sleep.
Enjoy a yoga class – perfect for regular relaxation and you can take a few of your favorite moves away on vacation with you, too.
Turn off the iPads – and other gadgets. Give yourself a tech detox for an hour or so a day, or even an entire day/vacation if you think you can. Just escaping from the constant ping of notifications can be a great way to unplug stress and chill out.
Don’t neglect your down-time. Schedule in time for YOU in among the fun family days out and other activities.
Enjoy your summer!
A regular massage is often considered to be a treat, rather than a necessity. Most people believe that having a massage is good for aches and pains, or can help if they’ve overdone it with exercise. Not everybody realizes that massage therapy is also an effective intervention that can help people with chronic back problems reduce their discomfort and improve their quality of life.
Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and if you’re one of the 31 million Americans who suffers with back pain at some point in their life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. If you are dealing with chronic back pain – which is pain that’s lasted more than three months and less than six - it can impact on your daily life, and stop you doing the things you want to do. You could be reliant on drugs to keep you mobile or help you sleep. Some issues don't get better, sometimes even after surgery, so the focus is often on mitigating the pain and maintaining the ability to perform activities of daily living.
The vicious pain cycle
If you can no longer exercise pain-free, you might end up in a vicious cycle of inactivity which makes your pain worse, which can stop you from being active. Taking more medication just masks the problem. Also, opioids like codeine can lose their power over time as you build up a tolerance to their effects. They can also have unwanted side effects.
What you need is a way to treat your back pain that is effective but doesn’t have the side effects. Luckily, research has shown that regular massage along with your prescribed medication and any other advice from your healthcare provider can help you manage your back pain and start to live a more active life.
How massage can help beat back pain
A massage session doesn’t just relax you, it can help to promote tissue repair, increase blood circulation and improve your stress levels and mood. Recent research showed that regular massage therapy combined with exercise helped people suffering from chronic back pain to feel less anxious about their condition too. The study, which took place at a pain management clinic in Western New York, involved sixty chronic low back pain patients who were split into two groups. One group received regular massage therapy, twice a week for four weeks, along with their regular treatment, and one group only carried on with their prescribed treatments.
The participants all recorded their own pain levels before and after having massage therapy on a scale of one to ten. There was a significant difference between the pre- and post-treatment pain rating in the group that had regular massage, but the control group who maintained their normal treatment plan reported no changes to their pain levels.
If you suffer with back pain and want to see what massage can do for you, book a session now and let us help you feel better!
Having a good stretch once or twice a day feels good and can help prevent injuries (flexible muscles can do more), improve your posture (and as a result help with back pain), increase blood and nutrients to your muscles, and help you to feel less stressed. Here's a few to try:
Spinal Stretch – lie on your back, bring your knee to your chest and then across your body. So your right knee will go over to the left side of your body. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Then stretch the other side.
Forward bend – Sit with your legs straight out in front of you stretch your arms up to the sky and then bend forward as far as you can.
Spinal Twist- still sitting with your legs in front of you, bend one knee to your chest then twist your body and hug your bent leg.
Other quick stretches (you can do these at your desk)
- Clasp your hands behind you and pull back to stretch your chest.
- Hold your arm in front of your body and stretch it into your chest
- Stretch your neck from side to side or do neck rolls
I bet you are feeling better already!
Also check out You Tube for some quick stretching routines:
5 office stretches
5 minute yoga
You know that massage is good for you, whether you’ve had one in the past and enjoyed the positive effects or you’re just curious about whether a massage therapist’s healing touch could help sort out your aches and pains. So, what’s stopping you?
We have 10 reasons right here that will inspire you to visit your massage therapist today…
1. Massage helps to treat some health conditions
Massage therapy can help with several common health conditions, some that you might already know about and others that may come as a surprise to you. If you suffer with constant back, leg and neck pain; muscle tension and spasm, a good massage will send you on the route to feeing relief. Some musculoskeletal conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome can also be helped by massage, as can the symptoms of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and some digestive disorders.
2. Massage can help to improve circulation
Massage therapy is great for boosting blood circulation, which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients around the body more efficiently.
3. Massage can increase lymphatic flow
Your lymphatic system is a system of vessels and lymph nodes running throughout your body which comprise an important part of the immune system. It helps to fight bacteria and other infections, and a healthy lymph flow also helps clear toxins from your body.
4. Massage can speed up post injury healing
If you’ve overdone it or hurt yourself accidentally you’ll be glad to know that massage doesn’t just help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness; it can also break up scar tissue, freeing up movement and enhancing your recovery.
5. Massage can help to increase your range of motion
Another thing that a great massage therapist can do is use techniques that stimulate the production of lubricants between connective tissues, which improves flexibility and balance.
6. Massage can help you to improve your posture
Massage helps to train your muscles, which improves the posture of your body as well as correcting any imbalances caused by sitting for long periods – which are common in people who sit at a desk all day.
7. Massage can give your immune system a boost
Massage is known to boost production of lymphocytes – the white blood cells which help fight off disease. Although a massage can’t guarantee you’ll never get another cold, there has been research that suggests it helps the body to fight infections and reduce the severity and duration of bugs and minor illnesses.
8. Massage can make you feel happier
The action of massaging the skin stimulates alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation, and promotes the release of endorphins – the body’s feel-good chemicals.
9. Massage can help you to de-stress
Massage is known to help reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so elevated levels are not good for your body at all. At the same time, massage has been shown to boost serotonin and dopamine levels, making you feel more relaxed and happy.
10. Massage could give you a better night’s sleep
If insomnia is your bedfellow, try a massage. Massage can help to balance out your sleep pattern and overcome insomnia and the fatigue that goes with not getting enough sleep.
Have we convinced you to book that appointment yet?
Bella Terra Organic Spa and Shoppe in Evansville, Indiana. Sharing stories regarding healthy living, holistic wellness, green beauty and therapeutic massage.