There is no doubt that after four years I still love what I do for a living, more than ever. My career as a massage therapist has changed my life in ways I never would have imagined, and I have learned so much beyond just anatomy and how to massage. Here are a few of the important and beautiful life lessons I have learned as a massage therapist.

1. How to be gentle and graceful with people.

2. How important it is to take care of yourself.

3. How to relate to and carry on a conversation with absolutely anyone, regardless of age, interests, background, etc.. We are all just people.

4. Pain is subjective. Everyone experiences their pain differently, and no one person's pain is more or less important or valid than another's.

5. All humans are incredibly beautiful when they allow themselves to be vulnerable.

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

 
 
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Empowerment.

Defined by the World English Dictionary as
1. to give or delegate power or authority to; authorize
2. to give ability to; enable or permit

Okay, sure.  But that sounds so lifeless for a word that is so full of passion and strength.

What does empowerment mean to you?

This is a question I have found myself being asked quite a bit lately.  So, I came up with an answer.

Empowerment has been an integral part of my life’s journey over the past few years.  For me, it has meant following the path I knew was right for me without the need for the approval of others.  To push through with courage no matter how frightening or impossible it seemed, because I knew in my core it was right.  It has allowed me to create a life that is built around who I am, instead of having to try and mold myself to a life that someone else has built for me.  It is about being able to be my true self in any situation, being confident in my abilities and passions, and about standing in my own power that I created for myself.  Forging my own path.  When a person is empowered, no one else can take away their power because no



 
 
We all have to deal with stress time to time.  Some more than others.  One of the most common causes of stress in our society is feeling downright overwhelmed.

And being overwhelmed can feel awfully, well, overwhelming!  When you get into that state of mind it is difficult to navigate your way back out to the other side.

I know how it feels.  I often (try always!) find myself juggling a million things at once.  Or perhaps it is just one mammoth task that has so many different steps it makes you crazy trying to figure it all out.  When there are so many different things calling your attention it is so difficult to decide what you should do first.  So, what usually happens?

You start one things, then another, then another, and don’t quite get any of them finished.

Or, you feel SO overwhelmed that you do absolutely nothing!  And then it all just piles up and gets out of


 
 
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

 
 
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In a busy world it can be difficult to keep oneself grounded and centered. With the many billboards, cars, shopping malls, airports, electronics, etc., people often find themselves bombarded with too much stimulation and surrounded by cement and noisy, polluting engines. Taking the time to connect with nature is among the most effective ways to stay centered, yet many of us are so used to being disconnected that it can actually take a bit of effort to do this. What’s worse, many have forgotten how to connect with nature – to truly let go of oneself and take it all in, become one with the natural abundance all around. You must set aside a little time, go outside, and let go of thinking. Relax, clear your mind, and just feel. Sit down on the grass or up against a tree, get down on the level of the smallest creatures of this world and become a part of their existence for a little while. Turn around and take a good, close look at that tree you are leaning on. You will find an entire little world on that one tree – snails, insects, moss, all making their homes there. Observe the crevices and colors of the trunk. Feel it gently with your fingers, and open your mind to the energy of the spirit within. All trees, plants, animals, stones, everything, have spirits within, guiding them and caring for them, the same as humans. And they love to be loved and appreciated, just like anyone else.

Most people think flowers are pretty, but have you ever really looked at one? Pick one flower, just one, and let yourself be mesmerized by the colorful characteristics and beauty of that flower. Notice the curve of each petal, the scent, the way the leaves grow on its stem. Connect with that flower, become one with it. Allow yourself to love that one beautiful, perfect flower. There is so much to be learned from a flower, or a tree, or a tiny, busy little insect. When a person takes the time to connect with the world on that level, they often gain inner peace and a greater appreciation for this beautiful planet that is our home and for life itself. Instead of killing the spider, let it out. It is a living creature in its own right, and intends no harm to you. When you happen upon a colony of snails, which you are much more likely to do if you are getting close to the earth and observing those tiny details, watch those beautiful creatures carefully and learn from them, love them. Become aware of how precious that little bird singing on the branch truly is. When you tune into what is around you, the awe at what Mother Nature is capable of is unbelievable. You will begin to see the miracle of it all, rather than taking our amazing world for granted. A person does not have to live in a rural area to connect with nature – even your houseplants are products of nature.

The perfect cure for feeling stressed and disconnected – a date with the great outdoors, even if it is your backyard or patio! There is nothing more inspiring and grounding than what Mother Nature has to offer.

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