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Myth - "Massage releases trapped toxins in the body, and drinking lots of water will help to flush them out."

There are a number of pervading myths floating around in the massage world, and over and above all others is this one right here. The above statement is actually a two-for, as far as myths go, but because they are so often cited together I want to address both parts here. Though massage has many wonderful benefits for health and well-being, detoxing is not one of them, so let's clear the air.
A highly beneficial natural treatment like massage does not need false advertising mucking up it's reputation, after all.

Unfortunately, the myth of toxins being released by massage therapy is still taught in some schools, and therefore continues to be repeated by therapists old and new. Despite the fact that it has been debunked, it continues to persist, for a few reasons that I can tell - for one, not all massage therapists or instructors keep up with the latest research; two, it sounds good in a world where clever (but inaccurate) marketing has popularized the idea of "detoxing"; and three, clients often feel "massage drunk" after a session, and it sounds like a good explanation for that phenomenon.

Research has not found any evidence to show this supposed increase in "toxins" circulating through the body after a massage, trying to find the exit now that they have finally been let loose. Probably because our muscles don't store them up to begin with. Fat cells can hold onto certain types of toxic substances (more specifically, persistent organic pollutants, or, POPs), and heavy metals can build up in your bones, but



 
 
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Today I want to talk about something important. I see this far too often, though it is very preventable. Sports injuries. In particular, sports injuries that occur because of overly tight muscles that are continually neglected, until it is too late.

I can only assume that many people do this simply because they don't realize the impending danger, so let's change that and look at why this happens.

Why is a tight muscle so susceptible to injury during sports activities or a workout? Look at it this way: if a muscle is tight, it is basically stuck in a contracted state, even when you aren't using it. Whether it is 20% contracted or 40% contracted, even when you are not actively engaging the muscle, that muscle is holding onto a pattern that it has gotten locked into, and you are not getting the full use of it.

For one, a muscle like this is weaker than usual. If your muscle is already 20% contracted at all times, you are only getting to use 80% of its strength. A tight muscle is also a starving muscle. It is not getting the



 
 
Do you find it difficult to communicate to your therapist just what it is you want from your session? Or, do you feel like you are communicating, and yet you still aren't getting what you were seeking? It seems there are a lot of people out there complaining that they have often left a massage therapy session a bit disappointed. Usually this is because either the pressure they received was too much or too little, or the therapist did not spend enough time working on the achey areas, or because the therapist was too chatty and they just wanted to relax. I'm not big on lengthy intros, so let's get the to the meat of the article - tips on how to get the massage you really want.

The best time to specify most of your requests is before the session, during intake. A caring therapist will spend a few minutes finding out just what the client has come in for, but this is also the time for the client to speak up.

1. Do you find the therapist doesn't seem to spend enough time on the area that was your main complaint? If, for example, you have a stiff neck, don't be shy in specifying you want at least ten minutes on just your neck, for example. That way if the therapist tends to only usually spend five minutes, they will know you really want more and need that from your session that day. I wouldn't recommend trying to allot specific time frames for multiple areas, because that can be tedious and your therapist will be too busy clock watching to be able to focus on you, but if you have a special concern that you know you prefer a certain amount of time on, say it! When a client has multiple areas of concern, the therapist may not realize one is 

 
 
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Aaahh, stretching. There are many reasons we think we need to stretch (unfortunately most of them are wrong, but I'll address that in future posts), and there are a few very therapeutic uses for stretching. One thing stretching is definitely good for is feeling good, but it also helps to loosen up tight muscles and keep them from giving you trouble.

Unfortunately, some of the muscles that could seriously benefit from stretching just can't be stretched. The reason being simply the way we are built doesn't allow for us to contort ourselves in such a way that will apply tensile pressure to some key muscles.

A quick breakdown of some of these muscles and why it would be awesome if we could actually stretch them:

Supraspinatus and Subscapularis (2 of the 4 rotator cuff muscles) - These muscles that are part of the rotator cuff group are often the cause of pain in the shoulder, but unfortunately they can't be stretched effectively. The supraspinatus lifts the arm to the side, so moving your arm in the other direction far enough to stretch is impossible, since your torso is kinda in the way. The subscapularis is attached to the underside of the scapula, sandwiched between the shoulder blade and ribs. No matter how you try to twist your shoulder, the trigger points in the portion of the muscle attached to your scapula will not stretch out. Bummer.

Quadriceps - This one is probably surprising, since we often see athletes pulling their foot back against their backsides to stretch the quads. However, though it feels like you are stretching them, it is only one of those muscles - the rectus femoris - that is stretching. The other three (vastus lateralis, vastus medius, and vastus intermedius) are not being pulled enough to stretch them. Mostly these three muscles don't cause issues, but sometimes the vastus lateralis can be a bit of a troublemaker.

Pec Minor - Or, more properly, pectoralis minor. This muscle can be a major player in serious problems such as thoracic outlet syndrome, and is often the main culprit in pain between the shoulder blades. When 


 
 
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It's best to save the massage for after your workout. Your muscles need about 24 hours after receiving a massage to recover before doing any vigorous exercise, such as running or weight training. If you push your muscles to work too soon, it can actually increase soreness and decrease the effectiveness of the soft tissue work done during your massage therapy session.

You can certainly partake in light exercises, such as walking or gentle swimming, within the 24 hour post massage period. Be sure to stay hydrated, and spend some time stretching and soaking in a hot Epsom salt bath after your massage to get the maximum benefit from it. You want your body to have time to recover and adjust to the new subtle movement patterns before your get back to your normal workout routine. If you are going to be participating in an athletic competition, you want to get a massage about 48-72 hours beforehand.

A massage after a workout, however, is very beneficial. According to a study published in the "Journal of Athletic Training", massage received about three hours after a strenuous strength training workout actually reduced the occurrence of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) by about 30%.


From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com

 
 
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Sitting at the office all day can do a number on your feet. Yes, that's right, believe it or not, sitting all the time is bad for your feet. When you aren't really using them, the sensors in your feet become deactivated, in turn reducing mobility in the feet and ankles. Next thing you know, you've got knee and back problems to boot.

So, first things first. You need to get yourself a tennis ball. Accessible and inexpensive, these little babies can do wonders for your muscles. Here are three simple ways to keep those feet and ankles in good shape without ever having to leave your desk (though I highly recommend getting up every hour and taking a short stroll!).

1. Roll the ball
Take your shoe off, push your foot on the ball and roll it back forth for 2 to 3 minutes per foot. When you sit all day, the soft tissue called fascia tends to tighten up, and this move will loosen it back up.

2. Flex your toes
Activating the muscles in your feet helps to waken your entire body. Put your toes on the floor, heel up, and grip the ground with your toes for about 10 seconds, then extend them up for 5. Do 20 reps on each foot.

3. Work your calves
Pushing the ball into the top and sides of your calf, roll along the length of the muscles. If it's sore, that means you found more tension to work on. The more you do this, the better it will feel. Work each leg for about 2 minutes at a time.


From the studio of
Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com

 
 
Not just for the typical reasons you might imagine – such as, an aversion to touching people – and I’ve heard that one plenty of times.  Of course, anyone who cannot get past that thought would never choose to be a massage therapist (or any number of other careers that involve human contact – physical therapy, nursing, etc.).  It’s all about perspective. After all, the healing power of touch has been written about almost since the dawn of civilization, and those who work in careers like this take a positive viewpoint.  Physical contact with other people is not that gross, I promise!  But, hey, it’s not for everyone.
Choosing massage therapy for a career is more than choosing a job.  It’s a way of life, a philosophy.  One cannot follow such a path unless they have a true passion for it and everything it represents.  This career is not like the office job you can leave behind at the office when you go home.  It takes dedication to follow the path of a massage therapist, in part because of the many ways it affects the life of the therapist even when they aren’t on duty.  Not everyone can handle marking “get a manicure” off the to-do list permanently!  I cut my nails off and filed them smooth for the first time in less than a week after beginning massage school, and cut and filed they have remained ever since.  Truly, I jest that this is any real sacrifice (though I know plenty of women who would beg to differ!), but there is so much more to it.

For one, massage therapy is a physically demanding job.  An MT has to take good care of themselves both on and off duty in order to maintain their own physical well-being enough to be able to help the physical well-being of others.  It’s hard to help others in pain if you yourself are suffering.  That means exercise, LOTS of stretching, and receiving massage on a regular basis, as well as drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy, and taking precautions at all times to avoid illness and injury.  Obviously, the bulk of wear and tear is on the hands, forearms, shoulders, and back.  And, in my case, my right foot.  A key element is self-massage.  I know I do self-massage on my hands and forearms on an almost daily basis.  If I didn’t,

 
 
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Essential oils have been used for medicine and fragrance for thousands of years.  Aromatherapy is the art of utilizing essential oils and their properties and fragrance for therapeutic purposes.  There are two types of essential oils – those used by the fragrance industry, and the therapeutic grade oils used for treatments. Little do most know that there is a huge difference between these two types of oils in the way they are extracted from the plants and the balance of chemical families within the oils that make them suitable for therapeutic use, or just for making soaps and perfumes smell nice.  That difference shows up in cost and availability, and most certainly in their effectiveness when used for treatment.

Aromatherapy is the perfect companion for massage therapy, which is why I offer it automatically included with each and every massage I give, with the option to opt out of course.  The use of essential oils is not just about how they smell. Each oil has its own special balance of properties that make them suitable for a variety of uses – stress reduction, increase of circulation, relief of muscle tension, increased energy, relaxation, digestion aid, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, skin nourishing, hormone balancing, scar healing, and much more.  What oils should be used depends on the needs of the individual.  All essential oils used for therapeutic purposes within my practice are the highest quality available on the market and their uses thoroughly researched.

The way the essential oils are administered is most often through inhalation and application to skin.  Both methods are effective for absorbing the oils and their properties into the body to let them work their magic. Which ones are safe for which applications should always be thoroughly researched before any individual attempts aromatherapy for themselves.

The most common combination of aromatherapy I use for massage is lavender for relaxation and stress reduction, eucalyptus for helping to keep the sinuses clear, and peppermint to relieve tired, sore feet and revitalize.  However, there are many more options that can be used to suit a client’s individual needs upon request.  Standard aromatherapy treatments are included in the price of the massage.  However, certain specialty treatments may incur additional charges.  Please inquire about any particular treatments you may be interested in.

Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com

 
 
Vertigo is the sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning, whirling, or moving and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweating, and involuntary eye movements. It is a symptom of something disturbing your sense of balance, not a disease in itself. There can be many causes to vertigo, including but not limited to inner ear fluid, Meniere’s disease, cerebral hemorrhaging (bleeding in the back of the brain), multiple sclerosis, and head and neck injury. First off, if you are experiencing vertigo I recommend getting checked out thoroughly by a physician to determine the cause.

 This article is for those of you who have already been checked out and yet no cause could be determined. One of the causes overlooked for vertigo is tension in muscles in the neck area, especially in the case in which one side is significantly more tense than the other. When muscles in this area tense up, they pull at their attachments at the base of the skull, frequently causing tension headaches. Tight muscles also decrease circulation in their surrounding areas. The affect of having one side pulling at the base of the skull more than the other and a decrease in circulation can cause not only headaches, but vertigo as well. So, what do you do to fix this problem? You guessed it! Massage therapy, of course.

Visit a licensed massage therapist proficient in deep tissue work, preferably one with experience in medical massage and especially in treating this condition. For those of you in the Kingwood, TX area, I focus in deep tissue massage and medical massage and do, in fact, have experience in treating tension that causes vertigo, very successfully. I do set up treatment plans for those who come to me with issues that require personalized treatment options.

Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com


 
 
Most people have heard of muscle “knots” and, for that matter, experienced the discomfort of said knots themselves. But I have a lot of clients asking me, “Just what is a muscle knot anyway?” Hey, good question. The truth is, there is no such thing as a muscle knot. Muscles just don’t get tied up in knots. Not literally, anyway. What we typically are referring to is actually localized muscle tension.

Quite often a whole entire muscle gets tensed up and can feel hard as a rock. But seemingly just as often only a part of the muscle gets tensed up while the rest of it may be relatively okay. There are certain areas of particular muscles that are especially prone to this problem – mostly in the shoulders, neck, and mid to upper back regions, though I find them in various leg muscles as well, and sometimes in the arms. What does it mean when a muscle is tense? A simplified explanation is that the muscle is stuck in a state of contraction. Repetitive movements, stress, injury, overuse, etc., have caused the muscle to be unable to go back into a relaxed state after contraction, usually bit by bit, until it basically stays that way all the time. Or, in many cases, just a part of the muscle remains that way.

Keep in mind there are many causes and this is a simplified explanation, but you get the idea. The muscle fibers become, for whatever reason, stuck together and incapable of letting go. These tight, stuck muscles are called ischemic.  Once that happens, the problem will often increase over time as the area of tension grows larger and more toxins and debris get trapped in the ischemic muscles. An excellent way to remedy this problem is, of course, massage therapy. Massage breaks up that tension, stretches and loosens the muscles, releases and flushes out toxins, and gets those fibers to let go of each other so the muscle can once again return to its natural relaxed state of being.

Neelou Saleh
Licensed Massage Therapist
Kingwood, TX
www.spiritoflotus.com