Migraines & Massage

Let’s just say it…migraines are awful! They’re a painful, debilitating, and all-too-common problem for many people. It’s estimated that up to 13% of the US population suffers from migraines. While many people seek over-the-counter or prescription drugs to ease their pain and prevent migraines, you may want to consider adding massage into your regular routine instead. Research has shown that massage can improve headache pain and decrease the frequency of migraines.

But what exactly is a migraine and how can massage help?

Migraines are typically felt as a severe pain in the head accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and visual disturbances. For many years, migraines were believed to be vascular in nature. It was thought that the blood vessels in the head and neck would spasm or dilate excessively causing significant decreases and/or increases in blood flow, resulting in migraine symptoms. However, in recent years, studies have shown that migraines are much more likely neurological in nature.

Now that we understand there is a major neurological component to migraines, it’s easier to understand how massage can benefit those who suffer from this debilitating condition. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heartrate, returning our blood pressure to normal, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, migraines can often be avoided. In a 2006 study¹, weekly massage sessions were shown to decrease migraine frequency and improve sleep quality. A gentle, yet focused massage to the back, neck, shoulders, scalp, and face seems to be the most effective in helping those who suffer from migraines.

While massage during a migraine may seem out of the question, as most people experience intense touch sensitivity and aversion, when massage is performed only on the feet or hands, symptoms can decrease. This is thought to be due to the calming effect on the entire nervous system, thereby decreasing the abnormal neurological signals that are being perceived.

So before your next migraine hits, schedule regular massage appointments and let us help keep them at bay.

References: ¹ A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Lawler SP1, Cameron LD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827629

Massage Etiquette - Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed To Ask

There seems to be a lot of unspoken etiquette involved when receiving a massage. For those who’ve had numerous massages, this may be well understood. However, for those who haven’t received massage regularly, you may feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by all the questions running through your head about it all.

So, instead of leaving these to be ‘unspoken’ etiquette, let’s rip back the curtain and talk about some of the questions you may have, but you’re just too embarrassed to ask.

What if I fall asleep?

Great! Most people arrive for their massage having been stressed, in pain, sleep-deprived, or otherwise unable to deeply relax for a while. It’s no surprise that many massage clients tend to fall asleep. Some may sleep through most of the session, while others only doze off a little here and there throughout. No matter what you do, this is the time to take care of yourself, so don’t try to fight what your body needs. If you drool, snore, pass gas, twitch, talk, or do anything else in your sleep, we won’t think twice about it. A large reason for your appointment is to get you to relax, so why shouldn’t you sleep if you want to?

What if I forgot to shave?

I promise, I really don’t care! For many women, the idea of having someone massage your legs when you haven’t shaved in a while can be a bit embarrassing, but there’s nothing to be worried about. As massage therapists, we massage both men and women, hairy to clean-shaven, and everything in between. There’s no need to be concerned about whether you shaved that morning or not. My focus is on your muscles, not on your hair.

What if I don’t want you to touch a certain area?

Whether an area is too painful to touch, you’re ticklish, or otherwise just don’t want anyone touching you in a certain area, that’s perfectly fine. A typical full body massage would include your scalp, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, hips, legs, and feet. Some people don’t want their hair messed up since they’ll need to return to work or go out; others are too ticklish on their feet. Whatever your reasoning, it’s your body and the session is all about your needs. If you don’t want any of those areas massaged, all you have to do is tell me.

How much do I really have to take off?

The quick answer is, it’s completely up to you. Yes, to have the most effective full body massage, you’ll need to remove most or all of your clothing, but it’s your time and it’s your body. While a standard full body session is best done with no clothes, if that makes you uncomfortable, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. There are ways to work with a client fully clothed, and that is a possibility, but please understand, that regardless of how much or how little you take off, you will always be covered in a modest fashion.

Should I tip?

Every therapist and establishment may have a different opinion on this, but the simple answer is, if you want to, sure. Tips are never expected but always appreciated. Just as tipping isn’t set in stone, neither is the amount. Do what you feel is best for the service you’re getting…period.

Should I talk to you?

This is, yet again, completely up to you. If you want to talk during the session, feel free. If you prefer silence, that’s fine too. There may need to be some communication in the massage to determine if the pressure is comfortable or answer some questions about any injury or pain you may be having. Other than that, I will follow your lead when it comes to conversation.

What if I have to go to the bathroom?

There’s nothing that will snap you out of a deep relaxation like the sudden urge to use the restroom. While it’s always advised to go before your massage session to prevent this, sometimes bodily functions don’t cooperate on our schedule. If you need to go, simply speak up and I will step out so you can get dressed and go to the restroom. Once you’re back on the table, we’ll resume right where we left off.

What if I don’t like what you’re doing?

Tell me! If the pressure is too much, too little, you’re ticklish, or something just doesn’t feel right for any reason, speak up. I can change technique, pressure, or end the session completely if you’d like.

I hope this answers some of your questions and if you ever have any others, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Common Health Problems: What can massage do for YOU?

Massages are often sold as a purely indulgent treat that you get when you visit a spa or go on vacation, but there’s so much more to massage than just a feel good treat. Did you know that the symptoms of many health problems can be reduced and even eliminated with regular massage?

Here are a few conditions that massage can work really well on; a few you probably know and some that may surprise you!

Stress
It’s no surprise that a regular dose of massage therapy is good for your stress levels, it works by helping to lower your blood pressure, improve your quality of sleep, and by reducing your stress levels, it’s also thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease.  In 2008 the journal Psycho-oncology published a study which came to the conclusion “…a significant reduction in cortisol (the main stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”

Lower Back Pain
This is such a common problem, often caused by bad posture at work, so no wonder many employers are drafting in massage therapists to help. Poor posture and sitting for too long can cause a lot of lower back problems, as can simply getting older. Get your massage therapist on the case and you can hopefully wave goodbye to a sore back.

Sports Injuries
Fitness and sport are great for your health but they can sometimes lead to injuries and overworked muscles. A regular massage can help to heal any wear and tear on your muscles and tendons, and can also help you manage the pain from a chronic or acute sports injury. Having well looked-after muscles may also help prevent future injuries – one more reason to book those regular sessions.

Joint Stiffness
Massage can be a blessed relief for people dealing with the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other joint problems. Research published in 2013 in the Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice journal said that people with rheumatoid arthritis reported some relief from pain and stiffness after four once-a-week moderate-pressure massages, topped up with self-massage at home in between treatments. Massage can also help with your range of motion and flexibility, which can relieve pain in your shoulders, knees, and hips.

Circulation
There are a whole range of health problems that can be caused by bad circulation, so it figures that boosting your circulation will be a bonus for your whole body. Regular massage helps to get the blood moving, getting essential nutrients to where they are needed in your tissues and vital organs much faster. The squeezing and pulling actions involved in a good massage also help to flush lactic acid out of your muscles and improve the circulation of lymph – the fluid that carries metabolic waste away from your muscles and internal organs.

Migraine symptoms
Nobody really knows what causes migraines, and there isn’t a cure, but if you’re a migraine sufferer you’ll be pleased to hear that studies have shown that massage can help reduce the frequency of attacks, and lessen the severity of the symptoms. Some migraines, especially those triggered by stress, are especially receptive to massage treatment.

Skin Cancer
Of course, we wouldn’t tell you that massage cures cancer; it can’t. But in some cases your massage therapist can notice abnormalities in your skin that you can’t see or just haven’t picked up on, and alert you to them. Regular massage can also be good for your skin as it gets the circulation going and the nourishing oils used in a treatment help to keep skin feeling soft.

Allergies
A massage helps to stimulate lymph flow around your body, which boosts your immune system and can help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions.  Sometimes a therapist might be able to tell just from your lymph nodes if you are an allergy sufferer as they can feel tender or swollen.

Did any of those surprise you? Of course, you don’t need to make an excuse for wanting a massage, but if you are dealing with any of these health issues, it’s good to know that your regular massage habit is helping.

Ashiastu

Ashiasutu - (Oriental Barefoot Massage)

In ashiatsu, the practitioner uses their feet to deliver treatment. The name comes from the Japanese, "ashi" for foot and "atsu" for pressure.

This technique typically uses the heel, arch and/or whole plantar surface of the foot, and offers large compression, tension and shear forces with less pressure than an elbow. Ashiatsu Massage is ideal for large muscles, such as inner thighs, or for long-duration upper trapezius compressions.

Q: What are the benefits of Ashiatsu?

If you’re in need of deep tissue work, but don’t enjoy the discomfort that comes with pointy elbows and thumbs, then Ashiatsuis the treatment for you!

Gravity enables Katy to deliver up to 3x deeper pressure than with traditional hands-on treatments. Utilizing the broad surface of her foot as her massage tool provides consistent pressure and contours nicely to the body. Clients will enjoy the same extra range of movement and decrease in chronic tension relief without having to endure painful strokes.

Movements along the para spinals and the lumbar region can relieve muscle spasms and open the intervertebral foramen (where spinal nerves pass through). It will give the nerves more space as well as increase circulation by bringing more freshly oxygenated blood to the area being treated.

Many Ashiatsu strokes help to elongate the spine. These movements dramatically stretch shortened muscles, which help in relieving pain and discomfort. These long fluid strokes also help flush the body’s lymphatic system, which releases metabolic waste at a very high rate.

Katy recommends drinking plenty of water before and after a treatment to help with the detoxification process.
After only a few treatments, Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage has been known to improve posture and range of motion. It can significantly reduce or eliminate chronic muscle pain, and improve bodily functions, which will create a higher sense of balance and well being within the body.

Ashiatsu is not suitable for everyone:

Due to the compressive nature of Ashiatsu barefoot massage, therapists must take extra precaution with certain client conditions such as:

- Pregnancy or trying to conceive
- High blood pressure
- Recent injuries or surgeries
- Contagious skin disorders
- Compromised immune system
- Acute liver or kidney disorders
- Certain medications
- Acute auto immune disorders
- Recent surgical implants
- Advanced Diabetes