Massage and Emotional Release

Massage and Emotions

You may have heard the term “emotional release” in connection with massage. Have you ever wondered what an emotional release is and why you have/have not experienced it?

Class Crier

When I was in massage school, I was the “class crier.” I shed tears at least once in every new class some time during the semester. I figured I was just stressed out from being tired (I went to night school) and being the oldest person in the school and having to learn a bunch of new stuff. All of this was true, but it wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized that my tears were an emotional release. I am the kind of person who hates facing new situations, especially if those situations are threatening in some way. I was threatened with failure and the fear of being thought of as stupid. I was threatened by facing a new challenge. It wasn’t until after the crisis of tears that I realized that I was okay, I was doing fine, and that I was not going to fail (I graduated with a 3.94 GPA). I needed to release those emotions of fear in order to break through the barrier and move forward.

Emotions Have Different Forms

Massage helps emotional release.Over the years I have observed that my clients experience different forms of emotional release. One client uses her massage session as a therapy session, to work through all her anxieties and worries and stresses. Her body releases these stresses in an unusual way. She refuses to see a psychotherapist. So I let her chatter away through her massage.

Another client lives a life where everybody thinks he should be perfect all the time. He’s extremely nice to people, even though their little quirks drive him crazy. The first half of his massage is a safe, nurturing place where he can complain to his heart’s content, knowing it will go no further. The second half is his time to relax and enjoy some alone time without people making demands of him.

In fact, a lot of clients use their time as a time to let go all of their gripes. I let them talk and gently try to steer them into a happy, positive place because a massage is not something you want to walk away from all worked up about something.

I’ve had clients get silly and laugh, I’ve had clients suddenly burst into tears for no reason. I’ve heard (although I’ve not experience this) of clients who have sudden outbursts of anger.

Emotional Release is Normal

All of these things are normal experiences. We go through life expecting ourselves to be perfect all the time, and our self-induced stress becomes unbearable at times. The safe, nurturing environment of the massage room is a good place to let go of those things and to allow yourself to be cared for for a short time. Massage is good for your soul. This article that appeared in Massage Today in 2008 talks about how emotions actually get trapped in the tissue and need to be released. You may find it to be interesting additional reading.

Fighting the Blues

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

Remember that song by the Carpenters? Today is a rainy day in my neck of the woods, so I thought I’d address the topic of depression and “the blues.”

massage sandy bluesWe all get the blues every once in a while–that feeling of sadness and lack of enthusiasm for life. There are many causes for depression. Some kinds are temporary, down-in-the-dumps kinds of things that go away in a few days, but other forms are long-lasting, extending for years at a time.

I personally struggled with depression for about 10 years, a long and dark period that I thankfully can’t remember much about, except that I felt hopeless and helpless. Ironically, the one thing I needed more than anything was to feel like someone loved me and cared about me, but the people I needed it from the most shunned me because I was depressed and was unpleasant to be around. It was a vicious cycle.

After I finally was able to pull myself out of the cycle with proper nutrition, exercise (and weight loss) and getting away from the pharmaceuticals that were making things worse (I’m one of the people who can’t take anti-depressants, it turns out), I enrolled in massage school and started learning.

I’m sure you’ve seen the documentary on PBS about the experiments conducted in the 50’s and 60’s on touch. Baby monkeys were deprived of touch and their emotional growth was studied. I remember vividly the video of a baby monkey clinging to a stuffed dummy that looked like a mother monkey, but not getting any love or attention from it. Still, the monkey felt comfort that the monkeys deprived of ANY contact didn’t have. Going without touch made the monkeys unable to relate to their counterparts, and they even  became aggressive and violent.

I’ve noticed that in today’s society, personal contact and touching each other has become alarmingly less prevalent. People who are alone and don’t have a loving person in their life to hug them and give them emotional comfort are more likely to become depressed and anxious. I fear for the children today whose main contact with their parents and their peers is through phone texts. I know of a family who calls their children to dinner through text messaging.

One of the reasons I became a massage therapist is because I recognized that if I didn’t start getting actual physical contact with other human beings, I would cease to exist. I had more than the blues, I was desperately hungry for human contact. A lot of the clients who come to me have the same problem. We are all starved for nurturing, healthy touch.

Hope for the Blues

As you observe the people in your life, remember that they need your touch. They need hugs, not just words. If you are suffering from these feelings, a good antidote is massage. Massage has been shown to increase cortisol levels and improve your feelings of worth and well-being. Make the blues go away. Call your massage therapist today.

Science and Massage

Scientific Research

More and more research is being conducted to determine the benefits of massage. Doctors who practice holistic medicine recommend it all the time. Why? Because over and over again, the research is proving that massage is good for you. It boosts your immune system, it lowers your blood pressure, it increases your levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding, and the list goes on and on.

So why aren’t more people getting massage?

According to the 2014 AMTA Massage Profession Report:

Science proves that massage relieves tension

Massage Relieves Tension

“The percentage of adult American consumers who received a massage was stagnant at 16 percent in 2013, the same as 2012 and the average number of massages obtained went from 4.2 in 2012 to 4.1 in 2013. Approximately 34.9 million people had a total of 143 million massages in 2013, a 1.3 percent decline from the 145 million massages consumed in the U.S. by 34.5 million people in 2012. Although most age groups saw declines in use in 2013, those 18 to 35 and those 55 – 64 did see slight increases.”

With all the evidence provided by science that massage is not only relaxing, but also therapeutic and beneficial to one’s health, why aren’t more people getting massages? I don’t know. In my opinion, part of it is cost. The average cost of a massage in my area is around $60 for a one-hour session. Some people think of this as excessive, especially after the recent economic decline. People are afraid to spend money on things that they consider “non-essentials.” Also in my area, there are a lot of families trying to make ends meet with several kids and trying to save up for their future.

I get it.

But these same people will tell me to  “take care of yourself first” and they will be the first ones to “splurge” on getting that expensive mani/pedi. And that makes them feel all prettified and special. Good for them. But a massage is more than skin deep. It’s good for your HEALTH. You will be healthier and more relaxed and able to cope with the stress of life and less likely to catch the latest whatever thing is going around. Isn’t that better than pretty nails?

And I don’t know about other massage therapists, but I’m not making 100% of the money I charge for a massage. I have to keep my business running, and that costs money.

So go with the science! Get a massage and be good to yourself.

Fathers Day

Some applause for great fathers

Gone are the days of dad working all day to come home to a pipe, slippers, and the evening paper while the kids sit waiting for dinner. This generation of fathers and step fathers are “all in” when it comes to child-raising. There’s more to being a dad these days than little league coach. Men who play an active role in their children’s lives deserve a little recognition.

Whether they are baby-wearing or carpooling, more Fathers are helping care for families “in the home,” some even full time. According to the US Census Bureau there were 93,000 stay-at-home-dads in the United States in 2000. Fast forward to 2012 and they reported 189,000 stay-at-home dads and it’s not only moms at “Mommy and Me” anymore!

massage sandy fathersFathers who work in the home chase kids, hold babies, sing lullabies, clean messes, play taxi driver, and juggle after school schedules. They get stressed out, touched out, and overwhelmed. These guys need “me time,” too. What does he do for down time? Video games, hunting, fishing, workout, massage?

Stay-at-home-dads aren’t the only awesome ones, though. Many working fathers don’t take a break when they arrive home but dive right in to home life. Cooking, cleaning, and playing with the kids is more than “pitching in,” it’s a part of life with a family. More and more fathers share in the sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane activities called life.

Weekend fathers are important, too. Sometimes circumstances arise in which a family lives apart. Trying to pack a week’s worth of time into a weekend can’t be easy. Going from a full house to an empty nest every other week can have an emotional effect, especially if they live miles away.

What can you do for the special man in your life who shares your home, your children, and your life? You could find tickets to his favorite team’s game! Maybe there is a concert coming up he’d like to go to. Send him on a fishing/boating/hunting trip. Slip a massage gift certificate into the stack of homemade cards from the kids. Heck, make him a card yourself! Cutting and painting construction paper sounds fun and he’ll know you’re “thank you” is coming from the heart!


Happy Gardening Day!

It appears that summer has finally arrived! I think it’s a little bit late for our neck of the woods, as it has been unseasonably cool for the last few weeks and the gardening plants are struggling to grow. I’ve been out in the yard at every opportunity, digging up dirt and working out the dirt clods, removing old plants and weeds, transplanting tulips and other flowers, and just generally doing what I can to improve the beauty of my yard and garden. I’m hoping to do better than last year, when hardly anything bloomed and the vegetables were rather sparse.

Gardening is hard work!

gardening massage sandy moon tide massageAll that bending, digging, lifting, sweating, straining that you do while gardening is a lot of exercise, and if you’ve been sedentary all winter, it can be a little hard on your body. Granted, its very satisfying to get your hands in the dirt and feel the coolness of the earth, to work out the hard spots of dirt and make it pliable for new growth, and give back to Mother Earth. It’s very rewarding to see the fruits of your labor later on this summer, when you can smell the flowers, enjoy the colors, and taste the tomatoes warmed by the sun.

But today, or maybe even tomorrow morning, you’ll be feeling it in your back, in your hips, in your neck and arms.

Wouldn’t a massage feel good right now?

Reward yourself with a massage. It will help you to recover from your hard work, keep you in better shape to keep going, make it more rewarding to do all that gardening work. And — let’s face it — it just feels great. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everything that was good for you felt this good? Call today and schedule your appointment before the calendar fills up.


Bicycling and Massage

Last week was National Bike to Work day. Now that Spring is here and the weather is great, more and more cycling enthusiasts are hitting the streets to stay fit and enjoy the great weather. Cycling is wonderful exercise and is fun, too, with the memories from childhood of flying down a hill with the wind whistling in your ears.

massage sandy bicyclingBicycling and Massage

Unless you cycle regularly and are in really great shape, suddenly jumping on your bike after a winter of riding the recliner around the living room watching football, you will be tired and sore the first few times you go out. That’s when bicycling and massage come together. Massage helps relieve those tired muscles of their soreness and helps them to stay loose and strong.

The pros have a professional massage therapist on call because they know that a good “rubdown” before a race will help them to perform better and more effectively. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford that luxury, so here are some self-care tips.

For a quick warm-up before a race, sit on a towel, or on the edge of a bed or chair. With your hands on the sides of your thighs, make quick up-and-down motions, loosening your upper-leg muscles as if you were brushing crumbs off your hands. Work your way down your leg, loosening your quadriceps, hamstring, and calf. Switch legs after one minute. Avoid getting any deep massage for the 24 hours preceding a race. as this can irritate nerve endings and cause soreness.

Immediately after a race, you can give yourself a quick post-event massage. Using some massage oil or lotion (olive oil will do), Use your fingers to slowly knead your quads and hamstrings, moving upward from your knee. After a minute or two, reverse direction while applying more pressure. Repeat the process on your other thigh and your lower legs. This will help prevent some of the soreness that you get the day after a race.

Don’t discount a professional massage

While you can work some of the tension out of your own muscles, and your friend/spouse/relative gives good back rubs, there is nothing to compare with massage of a therapist who has been properly trained to work your muscle tissue and know when to go deep or leave things alone. Find a massage therapist in your area that you can trust and visit them regularly. Your body will be happy that you did.

Massage and Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure is the Precursor of Cardiovascular Disease

Moon Tide Massage, Sandy Utah

Get your blood pressure checked

I imagine that just about everyone on the planet knows by now that high blood pressure is the signal for many, many health problems that will occur down the road if you don’t get it under control. It is the precursor of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes,  and a number of other disastrous  health problems. High blood pressure is on the rise throughout the world, particularly in urban areas, where there is more stress, less physical activity, and more diets consisting of unhealthy products.

People are turning to doctors in higher numbers for pills and potions to help them control their blood pressure, while most of them could control it themselves with a few changes in their lifestyle. This is not to say that ALL cases can be controlled through lifestyle changes; I’m well aware of people whose blood pressure is just naturally high and they MUST control it using drugs. That being said, however, the way you live now can save you a lot of health problems and visits to the hospital in your old age.

Natural Ways to Control Blood Pressure

Control your weight.

This is probably the #1 reason for high blood pressure. People just don’t realize how much pressure all those added pounds exert on the heart and circulatory system, squeezing the vessels and the heart, making it work harder to squeeze blood through the arteries and veins.

Eat Right.

Oh, the things we put into our bodies in the age of Instant Gratification! Grab a sandwich or a burger on the run, shop for foods that are convenient and easy to eat. We fill our bodies with chemicals that they were never intended to process. But being the miraculous machines that they are, they do remarkably well for years, even decades, without any outward signs, until one day we are “suddenly” attacked by heart problems and cancer. I heard one woman exclaim that “Our bodies betray us!”  I wanted to shake her and tell her that no, her body didn’t betray her. She had spent decades betraying her body and is now paying the price. Avoid fats and salt and sugar. None of these are good for you. Nobody needs to have dessert after every meal.

Get Some Exercise!

Seriously. Get off you duff and go for a walk. Join a gym. Take a group exercise class. Ride a bike. Walk you dog. Do it every day. Exercise releases endorphins, strengthens muscles, strengthens your heart, gets oxygen into your lungs (and tissues) and helps your body know that it’s supposed to keep living. Sitting around doing nothing sends the message that you’re supposed to die now. Your body gradually starts shutting down. Your metabolism drops, your cells reproduce at a slower rate. Not good.

Get a Massage!

Of course you knew that I would have to mention this. Research has shown that people who get a massage on a regular basis receive MANY benefits to their health, among which is lowered blood pressure. There is a significant effect on the blood pressure if you receive massage regularly. The connection between massage and blood pressure is significant and cannot be ignored. In this high-stress society, can you afford NOT to?


Exercise and Massage

According to all the media gurus out there, I need to be posting at least twice a week. The trouble with that is, there’s only a limited amount of things you can say about any given subject, such as massage, without becoming redundant. So, reaching into my bag of “subjects to talk about,” I came up with National Physical Fitness and Sports month. Bet you didn’t know there was even such a thing, did you? Well, yes there is! And coincidentally, it falls in May.

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

I think that some time this month, I will endeavor to find a way to become more fit. I used to be VERY fit 5 or 6 years ago. Lately, though, life has been emotional and stressful and, like a lot of people out there, I have turned to food for comfort. “Food” being a relative term. It’s edible, but not necessarily good for you, especially in large quantities.

Lack of proper nutrition, of course, leads to depression. Is it any wonder that there are so many depressed people out there these days? We are a nation addicted to foods that are not feeding our brains. Depression leads to lethargy, which leads to “I think I’ll skip going to the gym today.” Which leads to guilt, which leads to more eating.

exercise massage sandy utahYou get the picture.

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel and get on the treadmill. I think I’ll go find a trainer or someone who can exercise with me and hold me accountable before the seam in my jeans gives way. Some exercise and healthy eating is definitely called for here.

Won’t you join me?

And I’d better schedule a massage while I’m at it. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness MonthApril is tax season. Nobody likes to pay taxes or face their accountant to find out if they owe the government even more money than they’ve already paid! Even if you have a good accountant and you’ve done everything right all year, you still worry about getting it done on time (while at the same time procrastinating), and the nasty word of “audit” lurks menacingly on the outskirts of your consciousness.

April is Stress Awareness Month!

Coincidence? I don’t think so! Stress is the root cause of a lot of doctor visits. Headaches, backaches, general aches and pains, blood pressure (hypertension), heart problems … all can stem from stress of every day life. Massage is such a good treatment for stress. A recent client said “that’s the most relaxed I’ve ever been.” Who wouldn’t like to feel like that?

There are many scientific studies that have shown the benefits of massage, and stress reduction is one of the major benefits that people enjoy. Reduced stress also equates to reduced pain, better sleep, and better on-the-job productivity. It also means better health and MAY even improve your disposition enough that the relationships with your loved ones MAY improve. (That’s not a promise, mind you — I’m just saying — actual change is up to you!)

Stress also seems to be producing a lot of clients who want to get into my office right away, as in “right now.” In my practice, as with most massage therapists, that usually isn’t  possible. If you schedule your massage in advance and on a regular basis, you won’t have to deal with the last-minute problems. Call today. Think about your future.

And don’t forget to join the mailing list for my free email for other tips. (Plus, it’s chocked full of other fun stuff.)

Thank You For Reading

Recently, I started reading a series of books by J.A. Jance. In them, the main character (Ali Reynolds) becomes a blogger. She writes every day about her personal life. In this case, it’s about being cut loose from her job and her marriage. The whole series makes me wonder about blogging.

bloggingI seem to have writer’s block. When I was younger I could write about anything. Lately, though, I feel like I’ve said all I need to say. I’m sure there are volumes of things that can be said about massage and its benefits, but for today, I seem a little blocked.

The Christmas holiday is here. We’ve all been going through several weeks of preparation and spending, stressing about what to give Aunt Mable and Uncle Bob. The chance for last-minute shopping is over. Maybe, after it’s all said and done, it’ll be time to take care of you. I hope you save some time in the days ahead to take care of yourself.

I hope that you are able to find the joy of the season through faith in God, who makes all things possible through faith. Thank you for reading this blog. I hope there’s someone out there who does.

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc