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Massage for Happier Healthier Life

September 28, 2011

Matt is one of our fantastic massage therapists at the downtown milk + honey spa. In this article, he discusses the benefits of massage, that have been around for a long, long time.

Massage for Happier, Healthier Life

I frequently encounter the perception that massage exists solely as a pursuit of idle luxury. Often even well-educated clients only “treat” themselves a few times a year, but anyone remotely interested in overall health ought to investigate the beneficial effects of massage first hand.

Many writings from our ancient civilizations describe the healing benefits of intentional touch. In our modern world you can still observe other social mammals, like dogs and cats, pack and cuddle up together. Our children come running to us for healing and a consoling touch after any playground insult or injury. For me, it deepens the impression that perhaps we have been using massage for as long as we’ve had hands with which to touch.

Judging from the sheer ubiquity, vintage, and variation of the massage craft now, I’m tempted to argue that there has been a style of massage for any given culture at any given epoch. Within our society countless forms of massage speak to very specific needs. That being said, the results are remarkably similar when one person touches another for the purpose of support and healing, no matter the external manifestation … the client leaves feeling better.

It is a misconception to think massage is only about your muscles, it addresses your entire body.

The most basic styles, such as Swedish, at the very least “feel good” and “get things moving,” and kind of “squeegee” out the gunk that makes your muscles tight and sore. This is because massage enhances circulation, decreases nervous system activity, promotes digestion, and even aids immunity functions. The traditional Chinese medicine theory asserts it moves our life force energy through sluggish and stopped-up areas, toning the whole of the system. Of course, directly working the muscles also relieves and rebalances the musculoskeletal body, that body you inhabit at work, at home, and at play, so as to safeguard you from overuse and stress. This is the sweet spot of massage: receiving therapy at the most basic, direct, one-sided, and lived-in level possible.

It seems those who receive massage regularly probably live with less pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and blood pressure. They enjoy a greater sense of well being, greater flexibility and range of motion, and a relaxed state that is simultaneously revitalized. They probably get sick or injured less often. If you do not receive massages, you may not die of touch starvation but you probably will live longer, and might enjoy a higher quality of life, if you incorporate massage into your lifestyle. People have been doing it forever.

 

Massage

Getting the Most out of Your Massage (Part 2 of 2)

July 21, 2011

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MASSAGE

This is part two of two. The first entry is available here. It focuses on preparing and communicating. Part two focuses on receiving and resting.

Whether this is your first time on the table or your 52nd of the year, you can get the most out of your massage by preparing, communicating, receiving, and resting.

RECEIVING
You can enhance your massage by breathing and consciously “letting go.” If your stresses are really are so important, you can pick them right back up on the way out. Breathing, in particular, helps. Center yourself by exhaling gently, and allow your belly to take in new air on its own. If the session presents you with a particularly sensitive or challenging area, focusing your breath there. Asking yourself to relax around that area can be surprisingly helpful. But only go along so far as you feel comfortable. If at times you find yourself breathing too hard, you may need to communicate to your therapist that less aggressive techniques would be appreciated.

Some massage includes stretching and movement, and it may be tempting to help or even resist such efforts. Of course, this usually just slows or thwarts the good intentions of the therapist. Receiving well means inhibiting the inclination to play a part in controlling your limbs, of course within reason.

REST
If you already listen to your body, let me validate your common sense. Take it kind of easy the night you get your massage. Avoid vigorous exercise, work, or partying. You’ll want to drink plenty of water to help flush your system, and there’s nothing wrong with gentle movement and stretching. A quiet walk, a nutritious dinner, and a detox bath can all help. This is also a good opportunity to check in and see what you notice. The massage may have given you a new awareness that will be helpful to you going forward.

Massage

Getting the Most out of Your Massage (Part 1 of 2)

July 14, 2011

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MASSAGE

This is part one of two. The first entry is available July 14. It focuses on preparing and communicating. Part two is available here. It focuses on receiving and resting.

Whether this is your first time on the table or your 52nd of the year, you can get the most out of your massage by preparing, communicating, receiving, and resting.

PREPARATION
Like any activity a little preparation goes a long way. As far as physical preparation is concerned, gentle movement and stretching prior to the massage will enhance just about any experience. Coming directly from a hard work out, on the other hand, will narrow what is possible in a massage. You may find all but the briskest and lightest touch too painful, or you may just curse your therapist the entire next day!

You also won’t want to eat or drink a lot before your massage. Every person’s metabolism is a little different so a little self knowledge is helpful here. All the same, it will be obvious to anyone lying on the table that the mimosas and pot of coffee with your eggs Benedict just before your massage was a bad idea. Massage promotes both detoxification and digestion, so choose wisely. A lightly satisfied stomach from your favorite staple (fruit and nuts, some rice or veggies) will do the trick and is a good idea.

Preparation also includes knowing what you want from the massage. Whether you know it or not, you’ll be bringing unconscious expectations and assumptions along with your body to the massage table. To get the most out of your massage, take a moment of time and attention to get quiet and shift these feelings into conscious, attainable goals. You’ll be able communicate to your therapist clearly what you hope to accomplish or experience from your massage. You’ll also be able to better accept whatever comes out of working towards those goals.

COMMUNICATION
Diplomatic communication with the person who will be putting their elbow in your back is a skill worth developing. If you’ve done your homework you’ll be able to convey the information that aids the cause, and you’ll know when to speak up during the massage. For instance, “I am having trouble looking over my right shoulder when I drive because of the pain in my neck” is a little more useful than “I feel beat up.” Likewise, being able to say, “It’s nothing personal, but I don’t want to talk or deal with a lot of intense therapy. Please do what you can to help me relax and sleep better tonight,” is totally fair and respectable.

Communication may continue into the session, as your therapist can only get better at guessing what your massage feels like to you. If you and your therapist constitute a good match, you may only need to moan your appreciation now and again, but even the best partnerships can require a little fine tuning. Should you require your therapist to adjust either approach or quality, you’ll need to speak up. Just remember that your therapist is trying to help.

Part 2 (receiving and resting) is available here.

Massage

Massage is an Effective Treatment for Back Pain

July 5, 2011

From a story on NPR:

study in the July 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that massage is an effective treatment for lower back pain. In some cases, researchers report, the benefits of massage lasted for six months or longer.

After 10 weeks, the results were dramatic: Nearly two-thirds of the patients who received either type of weekly massage said their back pain was significantly improved or gone altogether. Only about one-third of patients receiving the usual care experienced similar relief.

Read or listen to the full story here.

Massage

Can Massage Help Me Lose Weight?

January 24, 2011

massage table at milk + honey spaOften spas promote massage as a way to lose weight and while it is not definitively true, there may be some indirect correlations.

Receiving a massage does not burn calories (but giving a massage does!), remedy cellulite, or take the place of exercise and a healthy diet. It does, however, increase muscle tone and the integrity of the skin. More importantly, massage lowers cortisol, a stress hormone which is often responsible for weight gain. When cortisol levels are high, the body has a difficult time resting and digesting and this stress mode causes weight gain.

Massage can also decrease water retention in the body by wringing toxins and excess fluids out of the muscles, slating them for elimination. Adrenal glands and kidneys get a jump start and move waste materials more quickly through the body. As circulation improves, skin appears healthier and smoother.

Even if no pounds are lost, massage sets the body up for the best conditions of optimal health and positive results show from the inside out.

Massage, Wellness

Why Drink Water After a Massage?

January 6, 2011

Have you ever wondered why you are told to drink extra water after a massage

Your therapist is not honing a nurturing instinct or lecturing you on good health. When your muscles are manipulated during a massage waste materials and other toxins are released from the muscles and into the bloodstream. Just like when you exercise, massage, especially deep tissue or sports massage, dehydrates muscles and removes electrolytes. In order to help your kidneys and liver process and flush out these toxins, it is important to drink extra water. Water will help prevent unnecessary soreness, possible nausea, pain, and an overall sluggish feeling. Your body is happy to get rid of all the “junk” it has been storing but you need to help it along with extra H2O. Keeping your muscles hydrated regularly helps keep the tissue supple and healthy reducing tension and spasm.

How does drinking water after, and even before a massage, help prevent these symptoms? These answers lie in your body’s physiology.

Why are these toxins building up in the first place?

As your muscles activate for everyday function they produce waste that gets removed by the circulatory and lymphatic system (Be sure to check out our lymphatic massage to help keep your lymphatic system in top shape). Tight or knotted muscles can constrict, reducing blood flow to the area. This constriction inhibits your body’s ability to flush out waste and toxins, and causes them to build up in your muscles. Drinking water after massages helps to break up these pockets of toxins and remove them from your body. But what exactly are these toxins?

What toxins are released during a massage?

It’s often mentioned how water helps flush toxins out of your body, but what exactly are these toxins? 

The primary toxin associated with muscle soreness and fatigue is lactic acid. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic respiration, so when your cells need energy but there is no oxygen to produce it, they take this alternative route to produce what they need. It is the quick and dirty way to fuel your body, as it is not as efficient as aerobic respiration (using oxygen), and it produces the lactic acid byproduct which needs to be processed by your liver. As we mentioned before, the constriction of your muscles can reduce circulation, leading to less oxygen being available to your muscles. This can produce a negative feedback loop where your tighter muscles are producing more lactic acid, with no way to remove it. The presence of lactic acid in your muscles has been proven to cause water to flow out of your muscles, leaving them dehydrated and increasing your blood pressure.

Lactic acid isn’t the only toxin that can build up in your muscles. Salts (electrolytes) and phosphates, processed in the kidneys, and nitrates like ammonia, processed by the liver, can also build up in your muscles. Massages can help break up these pockets of toxins allowing your body to flush them out and send them for processing in their respective organs. You don’t want to overload your organs with a rush of toxins to process, that’s why you want to drink extra water after your massage. Drinking more water after a massage will help dilute the concentration of these toxins, making it easier for your body to process without overloading your organs.

What happens if you don’t drink water after a massage?

The simple answer is you might experience pain, fatigue, and what is commonly called the DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, after your massage.  Here are some symptoms you may experience.

  • Reduced range of motion due to pain and stiffness 
  • Muscles tender to touch
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Short-term loss of muscle strength
  • Swelling in affected muscles

DOMS are typically experienced after high-intensity exercise, which can cause micro tears in your muscles. Your body responds to this by sending blood flow and nutrients to the area to heal, which in turn helps your muscles grow. Massages can lead to these same microtears, leading to similar symptoms. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after your workout or massage. Drinking water after your massage will help your body heal faster and ease these symptoms, but how much water is the right amount?

How Much Water Should You Drink After a Massage?

water pitchers at milk + honey spa

 

There is debate about the actual amount of water that is considered the right amount. A good way to know you are hydrated is to make a point to drink your 8 glasses a day and if your urine is clear then, you are hydrated. If you are already a pro at staying hydrated, then go ahead and tack on an extra 3-4 glasses of water after a massage. Every body is different s

o you might have to test it out and see how much is enough for you. If the day after a massage you are stiff, feeling pain or fatigue, add on a couple more glasses the next go around. We would even reco

mmend drinking extra water before your massage, as hydrated muscles are easier to manipulate and work than dehydrated ones. Hydrate properly, and you will find your body feeling renewed and rejuvenated. You can sip it milk + honey style by adding cut citrus or cucumber to your glass.

Book an appointment today!

Cleanse your muscles of their toxins today at your local milk + honey spa. With our signature massages such as our deep tissue, swedish, or sports massages, and more options depending on your body’s needs! Schedule your appointment today!

Massage, Pregnancy, Stretch Forms

Stretches Recommended for Pregnancy

November 12, 2010

pregnancy stretchEven though we strongly encourage getting frequent massages, we realize that it’s not always possible to make it to the spa. One of the best things to keep your muscles limber and relaxed is to stretch frequently. We’ll be periodically featuring stretch forms that we’ve created to help our Spa Partisans feel their best between treatments.

Click here for some stretches that are great for women who are pregnant. We also offer massage modalities that are specifically designed for pregnant women. Enjoy and check back in a week or so for our next stretch form.

Massage

Introducing the Lux Massage and the Ultimate Massage

November 3, 2010

We’re excited to announce a new treatment menu with new items, increased levels of service, and other exciting changes. Here are some of the highlights:

Lux Massage –  A Swedish-style massage with all of the upgrades (that many other spas charge extra for.) You’ll receive aromatherapy, hot packs, a warm neck pillow, and our luscious body butter. Sports or Deep Tissue massage include these upgrades as well. And, when we say a massage is one-hour, we mean 60 minutes, not a fraction of the hour. Buy Gift Certificate.

Ultimate Massage – The mother of all massages includes an invigorating and exfoliating full-body brushing, followed by your choice of full body massage styles (Lux, Deep Tissue or Sports). This 120 minutes of decadence is completed with our warm oil head and neck massage. Buy Gift Certificate.

We hope that you enjoy these changes. We’ll be highlighting changes to our skin + face treatments in a separate post.

Massage, Press

The Cure for What Ails Athletes

February 25, 2008

From the Austin American Statesman’s 360:

Attention all athletes! I have come across the cure to all aches, pains and sore muscles.

It’s the Hit the Trail Retreat, an hour-long sports massage followed by a sports pedicure at the Milk + Honey Spa located in the Second Street District. I’ve had some pretty intense workouts the past couple of weeks with the Austin Sports and Social Club Boot Camp, so this could not have come at better time.

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