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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Study Shows Benefits of Massage Are Boosted by Frequent Sessions

A recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, and reported in the Emory News Center, which can be linked to here, has shown that the biological effects of massage therapy are boosted when multiple massage sessions are received. The effects of massage that have been studied previously are cumulative and sustained. The persistent effects can last from a few days to a few weeks, and are dependent on how many sessions a patient received.

Read more by clicking here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pre-Natal Massage is Widely Recognized For Its Many Health Benefits

In recent years, many studies have been published about the benefits of pre-natal massage for all pregnant women. Some of these studies have indicated that massage therapy can bring a reduction in depression, anxiety, as well as the well-recognized pain benefits of massage. There is an article that was posted on that talks about these benefits.

A lesser known benefit to massage therapy, but extremely important for pregnant women, is its hormonal benefits. These benefits tend to be twofold. First, it reduces the amount of norepinephrine and cortisol, which are the stress hormones. Second, it increased dopamine and serotonin levels, which are the feel good hormones which are lacking in depressed individuals. When these hormonal changes occurred, there were fewer complications during the actual birth, as well as a lower incidence of newborn complications than among the general population.

Another benefit that was described in the article was that some of the swelling associated with pregnancy (which is actually a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by some of the hormonal changes) was reduced by regular massage. The swelling that occurs in the lower limbs can often become painful when it is caused by the pressure of the uterus on vessels that supply and remove blood and lymph from the lower extremities. Massage therapy was shown to help "reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body's lymph system."

Another great benefit of massage therapy for pregnant women is the reduction of sciatic nerve pain. Anyone who has ever experienced this pain for themselves is aware that it can be excruciating. Anything that can help reduce or remove this pain would be welcome, and it has been shown that massage can do just that. While it is caused by the pressure of the uterus on the pelvic muscles and lower back, which then spreads pain to the surrounding tissues, causing nerve impingement, it can be significantly reduced during pregnancy with regular massage therapy.

In addition to these benefits, massage may also help to improve sleep in the last trimester of pregnancy. This is notoriously a time when sleep is difficult, because of the increased pressure and size of the abdomen, as well as being required to sleep in a position that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Regular massage therapy, likely through the same hormonal changes described above, can help improve sleep.

Unlike with other modalities and forms of massage, it is especially crucial to have a massage therapist that is specially trained in prenatal massage, for the safety of the pregnant woman and her baby. Post-natal massage is also extremely helpful, and studies regarding that will be covered in another article.

Parenting By Connecting: An Excellent Modern Concept

If you haven't heard about connected parenting, it is an interesting concept used by many parents in the modern era to raise their children with kindness instead of by other forms of discipline. Many people in this current generation of new parents can remember being raised with yelling, strong words, and shame. While we believe that this is the best way to raise a child, there are alternatives which may in the long term be more effective for raising children who are well adjusted and happy. in their article accessed by clicking here talks about this new type of parenting. They talk about when you were a kid, and being reprimanded in front of others. Most often, we remember the shame, but not the actual lesson or words that our parents were trying to convey to us. The writers of this article feel that this harsh type of discipline is not very effective, and does not need to be practiced on our own children. In other words, the cycle of shaming and harsh discipline can be changed, and we can practice a new type of parenting.

This type of discipline comes from the basic feeling that our children are bad, and that they must be punished. While the punishment is supposed to have the effect of making them not repeat the same actions, all too often it simply causes more acting out, more aggression, and the need for more of the same type of discipline.

However, the type of parenting talked about in this article starts with the fundamental view that your children are inherently good. That perhaps in the heat of the moment, they have forgotten that goodness, and have chosen to act out of fear or anger. But you, as their parent, are uniquely capable of showing them love, and thus bringing them back to themselves. Perhaps it is helpful to realize that you also have moments when you are not being your best self. Moments when you lash out or act from a place of fear. Moments when you are overcome with emotion and your best judgement flies out of the window. When your children have the same situation, it might be better to realize that they are like you rather than starting to yell or try to cause them to feel shame.

When the mind of a child is overrun by emotions, then " amount of lecturing, explaining, or reasoning you do while he is in this state will help him access his better judgment. He hit, he kicked, ...because his mind was overrun by feelings." So, the proposal of the authors is that a connection with you will restore your child to a calmer state of mind. What this means is that a small quiet nudge with few words will be more effective. Calm words that bring a limit to the offensive behavior, without also bringing shame or yelling, can help to calm the child out of their emotional tense state. Most importantly, you bring your love and understanding. The child is not seen as bad, only the behavior. You stop the behavior, and then bring love.

When you bring the limit to your child, without reprimanding or shaming, you show them that you know that they are good, and that when the emotions have lost their grip, they will be back to their usual self. When your child is disconnected, practicing this type of parenting can help to bring connection. When your child is off-track, these actions on your part can help bring the limits to their behavior that is needed. Then, they may have a tantrum, they may cry, they may just express their feelings to you in words. In the words of the article, "You can be confident that your example, day in and day out, shows your child all they will ever need to know about generosity, thoughtfulness, caring, and sharing."

It would seem that this method of parenting holds a great deal of promise for raising children in a loving and kind way, helping them to learn to set limits on their own behavior, and getting away from the harsh discipline methods that have been used in the past. Since it is a new method, there is less reliable research to go on that this technique is effective, but it would seem that there will soon be happier, better adjusted kids who were raised in a loving, connected way, while still learning that there are limits to what they should do.

Massage therapy is also being used to help children deal with the stress of their lives and emotions. If you would like to learn more about massage therapy, please click here to visit our kids massage page.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day: The Origins of the Holiday

So, some people may be wondering what the origins of the Valentine's Day holiday actually are. I mean, we all know that we exchange gifts of love, we get our loved one roses, chocolate, and massages, but does anyone really know why we do these things?

According to the wikipedia entry, the holiday of Valentine's Day was actually created in honor of several saints with the name of Valentine who were martyred in early Christendom. The stories of their martyrdom may have been confused with the stories of other saints who were also matryred in the same, or even in different, periods of time.

One of the saints with the name Valentine was imprisoned in Rome, and questioned by the Roman emperor of the time, Claudius II. The Roman emperor attempted to convert Saint Valentine to the religion of pagan worship practiced by the Romans. Naturally, this was unsuccessful, and Saint Valentine was executed. He was reported to have performed a miraculous healing on the daughter of his jailer, whose name was Julia. He is reported to have written her a note that was signed as "Your Valentine." After his death, his jailer Asterius and his entire household of forty four people believed in Jesus and were baptized.

This same Saint Valentine was reported to have have performed Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. According to these same legends, Saint Valentine was said to have cut heart shapes from red paper and given them to the Roman soldiers to remind them of their vows and of God's love. Saint Valentine is also said to have worn a purple amethyst ring engraved with an image of Cupid, since this symbol of love was allowable by the Roman government of the time.

Centuries later, many of these origins have long since been forgotten, but these great saints have become permanently associated with love and affection. Exchanging of gifts signifying love and affection still remains in our modern society, although in many cases the gifts have become more elaborate. Whereas in centuries past, lovers may have exchanged hand written notes and candy to show their love and affection, today lovers may exchange roses, chocolate, greeting cards, and spa or massage gift certificates. One of the more popular modern displays of love is to give your spouse or loved one a couples massage, where you both receive a massage together. Such a relaxing event is often the prelude to a romantic evening which may include an elaborate dinner prepared by a chef, a candlelit dinner, perhaps even taking in a movie either at home or at the theater, or even attending a Broadway show.

We welcome your comments below on what your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day might be. Do you have dinner out or in? Chocolates, flowers, candy, and cards? A movie at the local theater or in your home (Netflix or Amazon)? Let us know what are your favorite traditions, and we might use your contributions in a later blog :-)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chocolates, Roses, Candy, Couples Massage? Just a Few Traditional Ideas to Make Valentines Day Special

For couples who enjoy the traditional and simple pleasures of Valentine's Day, it is rather simple to create a traditional Valentine's Day celebration at home. There is an interesting article discussing just that, which can be found by clicking here.
The first item on my list would be a romantic couples massage in your home. While all of the traditions that are below are wonderful, there is nothing like starting the evening with complete relaxation and stress relief. While this is lower on their list, I would put it to number one, and even recommend that it occur in the afternoon, so that the evening can be reserved for more quiet and traditional activities.

You can also present your loved one with a gift certificate for a couples massage, allowing you to have a quiet romantic evening on Valentine's Day, with the promise of a romantic spa day in the future.

For a traditional Valentine's Day, flowers are the most essential and number one on their list of traditions for Valentine's day. Roses, carnations, a bouquet of pretty flowers, and even nowadays a bouquet of fruit so that the flowers can be eaten instead of dying after a few days. Edible arrangements can be called upon to provide these types of bouquets, and of course, 1800flowers is the simple way to get flowers from your local florist from one central location.

On their list, the next two items are chocolates and chocolate candy. Hersheys and Russell Stovers are my favorite picks for chocolates, although the M&M's with personalized love notes that they suggest is a fabulously romantic idea! You can put all kinds of romantic little messages to your loved ones on m&m's candies.

Love poetry for your loved one, created by you, is the next traditional item on this list of traditions. While there are apps to create love poetry, it doesn't have to rhyme, and original is always better. Next on their list is mood music. There are lots of apps that can create romantic music serenades to play in the background. You already know your loved ones' favorite music, and it is easy to use an app like Iheartradio or Pandora to create a playlist tailored to your loved one.

When it comes to Valentine's Day traditional gifts for your loved one, whether you have been together a long time or a few months, jewelry tops the list of many people. A simple heart necklace, or a beautiful ring decorated with small diamonds is a beautiful reminder of the love you share that will last forever.

The last traditional activity shared by the article is to see a movie together. Many couples will go to a movie theater to see the latest romantic comedy, but maybe you are more the type who wants to spend time at home watching a movie. Amazon allows you to rent their movies for a night at a very reasonable price, and if your flat screen tv is attached to your computer, then a streaming movie would be perfect.
If you are not interested in going the traditional route, we have posted another article talking about unique ideas that you can do for Valentine's Day. They are just as romantic as the ideas here, but are more original and non-traditional. If you would like to see this article, please click here.