Postpartum Massage, Progesterone, and Oxytocin, the “Cuddle Hormone”: Hugs, The Missing Link to Rapid and Comfortable Recovery After Delivery

Pregnancy is truly a special time in a woman’s life, and any woman who’s been pregnant will tell you that the experience, subjectively, feels different somehow. If you thought that this was, perhaps, just romanticizing your past in retrospect, or caused by the (very real!) excitement about your pregnancy, you may be shocked to learn it wasn’t at all in your head.

Well, it was in your head, but that’s not to say it was imaginary; rather, there is a strong and solid neuro-hormonal basis for what you experienced. And, of course, you can

37 Weeks Pregnant by Mark Couvilion

37 Weeks Pregnant by Mark Couvillion

now rest assured: You DID, in fact, experience many, many odd things during your strange, yet fantastically beautiful trip to motherhood.

During this time, a woman’s body changes in many ways. One particular adjustment that the body makes to accommodate all the myriad changes is re-adjusting hormone levels.

Progesterone swings higher, then plateaus at some point. This hormone helps make the body more flexible and able to adapt to physical change.

Higher progesterone also potentiates a distinct shift in the mood and perception in the postpartum patient after delivery, often inducing a sensation of increased sensitivity, a feeling of breast tenderness, and even mild cough and nausea. If you felt this, it was your hormones, not a cold.

If your wife told you it was “really happening”, and you condescendingly suggested it was imaginary, or the result of her thoughts, it’s time you know the plain truth: You were 100% wrong; as strange as it sounds, your wife really could feel the trucks vibrating the house on the highway a mile away and had breast pain from her body’s chemistry, not “depression”.

Conversely, if levels of progesterone taper, severe depression, body pain, and digestive and sleep disturbance may occur. Even with its potential side-effects at the highest end, the goal should be to keep progesterone levels on the higher side, but within range. It may seem as though there’s no way to win, but that’s not entirely true.

New Mom Holding Baby.

New Mom Holding Baby.
by Steven H.

Higher progesterone levels are associated with bonding with others, and specifically, the new baby. After the pregnancy, hormone levels fluctuate, and progesterone rapidly drops.

The new mother should definitely hold her baby many hours, whether she is breastfeeding or not. Breastfeeding will induce higher levels of oxytocin, as will regularly scheduled sessions of therapeutic massage.

Stress, a significant dampener when considering its disastrous effects on a mother’s milk production, cannot be avoided, but may be ameliorated with therapeutic massage.  This will increase the amount of milk-flow, if breastfeeding. In Indonesia, clinical trials spoken of during an oral presentation at the 2014 Riau International Conference by Stephanie Dwi Guna have demonstrated that specific “Oxytocin Massage” techniques that stimulate the parasympathetic nerves can help increase milk flow measurably, in the word of the speaker, “significantly”.

Skin-to-skin contact, whether therapeutic, or the loving contact between the new Mom and her baby, both keep oxytocin levels at their peak. Breastfeeding probably raises levels highest, as the new mom and baby bond and experience profound closeness that goes back to time immemorial.

Oxytocin also dulls pain, both during labour and also during the month-long recovery from strenuously using muscles all over the body to push the baby out with more force than a woman probably thought was possible, in the case of a natural birth. It also effects tonal change on the uterine tissue, which must also slowly return to its usual state.

Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “cuddle hormone”, is naturally released during pregnancy, as well as during the birthing process. “Is it really released when you hug?” you’re surely wondering. It isn’t named as it is without reason! Hugs do, in fact, heal! It’s not just all hemp-granola and hippie talk! Studies show it’s now a proven fact. So ask your husband and kids for a well-deserved hug to help you with healing~!

"OXYTOCIN and Pregnancy"

“OXYTOCIN and Pregnancy”
Digital Work by D Alban.
Chemical formula by flippy rice

During the last trimester, levels of oxytocin soar. Many women report feeling somehow different at this time. It is true that oxytocin can alter perception. It’s associated with trust, empathy, and openness. This bonding hormone must be kept high in the new mother, else a cascade of effects may be experienced, including depression. Therapeutic Massage also increases both serotonin and dopamine, while reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is associated with stress response. Dopamine and serotonin also both help make a person “feel good”.

7 Months Pregnant

7 Months Pregnant
Phyllis Buchanan

There is evidence that oxytocin also stimulates progesterone release. And so, nurturing time spend holding the baby is crucial for the hormonal well-being of the new mother. In order to keep hormonal levels in check, breastfeeding is encouraged, and holding the baby as much as possible, whether feeding or not, is an absolute necessity. While high progesterone inhibited lactation during pregnancy, progesterone should also not fall too low during breastfeeding, either.

While the American Association of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the World Health Organization support encouraging women to breastfeed, other authorities, a few random academians disagree, suggesting that telling women that breastfeeding is “natural” and has health benefits is not good practice, because it may make some women feel badly that they cannot produce enough milk, and may not want vaccines or GMO food products for their child, as a logical extension of thinking that more natural options are best. We feel staying informed is most important, and researchers having such concerns, is itself dubious.

Certainly, Therapeutic Postpartum Massage may again play a helpful role; in India, the

Pregnant Mom with Daughter

Pregnant Mom with Daughter
Mario Emiliano Fernandez

practice of Jaapa by a Maalishwali (मालिशवाली), or massage therapist specializing in working on newborn babies and mothers, can be traced back millenia. Like all things new, ancient and revered tradition have roots in observation and experience. In the twentieth century, we began re-discovering ancient cultures with a new respect in America.

Rather than holding a condescending attitude toward what were once erroneously regarded as “primitive” ancient civilizations by Westerners in previous centuries, we began to respect that maybe these various indigenous peoples were on to something, and had developed various sciences worth looking into. Upon further scientific inquiry, this turns out to have actually been the case, as for example, many phytochemicals found in plant remedies, have been discovered and cataloged.

"Everybody Has Lunch"

New Mom Breastfeeding
“Everybody Has Lunch”
by Webchicken

Many other traditional cultures across the human landscape rely on regularly scheduled massage therapy for the new mother and baby. This idea is common in both India and throughout Asia, but perhaps not surprisingly, is also found in other traditional cultures on every continent. It seems that long ago, before “scientific method” had been coined as a phrase, people were learning and advancing from shared anecdotal experience, alone.

In the case with postnatal massage therapy, it seems almost unanimous among cultural groups, that a new mother receive massage therapy with more of an urgency than any other person at any other stage in their life, among people in each cultural group. Now we see, there is ample biochemistry to back up this time-tested practice. Again, the lesson from this is to regard the science of other civilizations that existed and/or may still exist as anything less than parallel and alternative, rather than lesser or without merit.

Authored by D Alban

Copyright 2018 H Miller, D Alban

Resources For Further Reading:

Massage Increases Oxytocin and Reduces Adrenocorticotropin Hormone in Humans

Posted in Alternative Health, At-Home Massage Articles, Child Health, Personal Growth, Post-Natal Massage, Pre-Natal Massage, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Synthetic Marijuana, From Spurious To Authentic: K2, Spice, Marinol, And Sativex In Review

K2, Spice, and Others

K2, Spice, and Others

Headlines tell a frightful story: Again and again, we read about synthetic marijuana causing users to experience side-effects that range from debilitating stupor and psychosis, to coma and death.  To be sure, this is no media hoax.  According to Newsweek’s June 11th, 2015 article entitled “Synthetic Marijuana Deaths Tripled This Year”, author Max Kutner explicates on this headline.  The details are saddening.

Emergency Room.  Credit: Scoot & White Health Care.

Emergency Room. Credit: Scoot & White Health Care.

By now, we all know that synthetic marijuana is harmful and can be deadly in some instances.  However, most of us don’t really know what synthetic marijuana even is.  First, what it is not.  Synthetic marijuana is not hydroponically grown weed.  In fact, it’s not marijuana at all.  It contains chemicals that are not ever found in any type of marijuana, in any form.  While marijuana is essentially nonlethal, “synthetic marijuana” is definitely a dangerous, potentially deadly intoxicant.

K2 Drug Packet.

K2 Drug Packet.

What is commonly referred to as “synthetic marijuana” is actually plant matter, not cannabis to be sure, sprayed or soaked in a chemical stew.  These chemicals vary from brand to brand, and even batch to batch.

Although these chemicals are not found in marijuana, such experimental chemicals affect the same anandamide receptors in the brain as THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids found in cannabis. Anandamide was the first endogenous ligand found, and early on these receptors were sometimes referred to as “Anandamide receptors.”  At this point in time, this is a disused term.

Now more commonly referred to as cannabinoid receptors, binding sites for our endocannabinoids (Anandamine/AEA, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and other ligands), these are a type of cell membrane receptors, classed among the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily, and both marijuana-derived cannabinoids, as well as lab-created synthetics bind to these receptors.

There, most similarities end between the synthetics and natural cannabinoids.  Our endocannabinoid system is found throughout our brain and other tissues, and it’s why marijuana affects us in so many ways.  It’s also why these other chemicals affect us.

Spice, The Synthetic Anandamide-Receptor Drug

Spice, The Synthetic Anandamide-Receptor Drug

Some more well known known brands of “synthetic marijuana” include “K2” and “Spice”.  These are somewhat generic terms referring to these products, not a trademarked product like Pepsi or Coke, and may be produced by any of various labs.  There’s also 8-Ball, Baby J, Kush, Joker, Black Mamba, Kronic, Black Majic Smoke, Cloud 9, Funky Green Stuff,  and many others.

These drugs are crudely manufactured, with no controls as to the dosage, and no indication on the package as to which particular synthetics are ingredients.  Often  sold in small, colorful foil packets usually marked as “incense”, appearing much like single-serving  vitamin powder packets, K2 and Spice are produced all around the world for consumption where this blend is still legal.  In many places, these substances are now forbidden by law.

Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC. Structural formula.

Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC. Structural formula.

HU-210. A synthetic anandamide receptor chemical. Note the similarities to THC, an actual cannabis-derived cannabinoid.

HU-210. A synthetic anandamide receptor chemical. Note the similarities to THC, an actual cannabis-derived cannabinoid.

These drugs should rightly be referred to as “anandamide” drugs,  possibly “synthetic cannabinoids”, but certainly not “synthetic marijuana”. Why is this so?

It’s because anandamide  receptors are what these chemicals affect in the body and brain and also because these are not true synthetic cannabinoids, if by “cannabinoid” we mean chemicals identical to those naturally found in the cannabis plant, but rather lab synthesized novel creations.

After decades of research,  the terminology has evolved, and the ligands our bodies make that work with these receptor sites are termed “endocannabinoids”.  It seems that while murky, defining lab-created chemicals that bind to these receptors as “synthetic cannabinoids” is now, technically, correct.

These other chemicals sprayed onto K2 and Spice leaves (mint or other herbs)  such as HU-210, JWH-018, and JWH-073, just to name a few, are structurally similar in some ways to naturally-occurring cannabinoids, but never found in nature.  Therefore, to refer to them a “synthetic marijuana”   is a misnomer, as marijuana definitely refers to the cannabis plant and its products.  This disambiguation clears up quite a bit.

These new lab-made chemicals possess adverse effects attributable to the fact that such are full agonists to the cannabinoid receptors, CB1R and CB2R, while THC is only  a partial agonist.   Further, some synthetics degrade into other metabolites that are also full agonists. What this means is that no matter how much marijuana or THC-based product is consumed, THC will never be able to saturate, and therefore activate, all of the receptor population as the synthetics have the potential to do.

Marinol Bottle by UsualRedAnt.

Marinol Bottle by UsualRedAnt.

Interestingly enough, there are “real” synthetic cannabinoids (what an oxymoron!), literally identical to those found in cannabis.   These chemicals have not yet been isolated from any other plant. Cannabinoids are the novel class of chemicals founds only in marijuana and hemp, including THC and CBD.

So far, we’ve discovered many, many more than that.  Each type of marijuana has a unique cannabinoid profile.  And each cannabinoid modulates the total effects of the plant, even as many are not psychoactive.

There do exist cannabiniods that are actually identical synthetic analogs of the naturally occurring substances, THC and CBD, unlike K2 and Spice, which contain synthetics often  resembling marijuana-derived cannabinoids, but always having significant  differences in chemical structure.

One such product is called “Marinol®“, or dronabinol, first approved by the FDA in 1981, and again for other conditions in 1985.  Synthetic THC was once produced using sesame oil in a highly complex process.  This drug is, in fact, FDA-approved to treat loss of appetite associated with AIDS, as well as nausea associated with chemotherapy.  While this drug is not derived from marijuana or hemp, it is, in fact, a true analog of THC, the most well-known cannabinoid found in marijuana.  It is not found in hemp, save in trace amounts.

Sativex. Cannabis Extract with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Sativex. Cannabis Extract with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Sativex® is another medical cannabis product making the news.  Many think that it is just another drug company’s brand of THC, Marinol with a different name.  However, Sativex isn’t synthetic marijuana at all; rather, it’s a cannabis extract containing both THC and CBD, as well as other minor cannabinoids.  Many users of Marinol complained of symptoms not often observed in marijuana users.  Isolated THC was the culprit.

Greenhouses

Greenhouses

When THC is consumed alone, side-effects can be many and varied.  When ingested, or otherwise consumed with other cannabinoids, these other substances like CBD tend to eliminate such issues.  Therefore, whether synthetic or natural, Sativex promises to be a better product.  It was approved in 2001 in the UK for neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and other debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Bud.  Credit:  Eggrole

Bud. Credit: Eggrole

In summary, it’s clear that the language used in the media these days regarding synthetic marijuana is anything but clear.  There’s marijuana, it’s extracts, and other preparations.  Then there’s Sativex, a standardized cannabis plant extract.  We also have Marinol, a completely synthetic THC drug that is not collected from the cannabis plant, but rather manufactured.  And finally, we have K2 and Spice, “synthetic marijuana” as news outlets would have us believe.

It’s important to have our terminology and basic knowledge correct when discussing any issue or topic.  Therefore, it is imperative that the population begin becoming acquainted with which drugs are

Yummy Bud. Credit: Tanjil Ahmad

Yummy Bud. Credit: Tanjil Ahmad

which, or we risk mis-educating our youth, as well as adults.  The risk associated with K2 and Spice are leagues higher than the risks of marijuana, the worst hazard being arrest, as consuming and possessing its flowers and extracts derived therefrom  is illegal, but not ever deadly.

NJMassage.Info

Authored by D Alban

Copyright 2017 H Miller, D Alban

Posted in Alternative Health, Evidence-Based Health Care, Health Studies, Medical Marijuana | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ’80s Era “Just-Say-No-To-Drugs” Philosophy and Evidence-Based Smoking Cessation Education: Two Divergent Approaches, Only One Success

The 1980s approach to drug addiction could easily be summed up in three epic  words: Just. Say. No.  Our then-First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, along with D.A.R.E. (Drug Addiction Resistance Education), took a hard line on drug addiction.

DARE logo - Drug Abuse Resistance Education

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Logo

The approach was simply and clear: Keep kids from ever touching drugs. Teach them to shun drugs, to say no, even to the possibility.  For years, drug war crusaders reciting this mantra tried their hardest to stem the rising tide of drug addition.

This approach relied heavily on emotion-laden appeals, a fear-based approach that was supposed to scare kids straight.  Except it didn’t.  As much as we tried to keep our youth drug-free, the number of addicts kept rising.  An idea, in principle, may work.  In practice, it may fail miserably.  Here, such was so.

Cocaine By Valero Everett

Cocaine by Valero Everett

According to a mathematical review of the data about teens, Wei Pan, researching at the University of Cincinnati, along with Haiyan Bai of the University of Central Florida, found that D.A.R.E. was statistically insignificant in reducing teen drug addiction.  Why weren’t kids listening to the police officers’ advice not to take drugs?  What was happening?  How is it that the kids were missing the point?

Effectively communicating the hazards of drug abuse to adolescents was the primary goal.  If we ask why the “Just Say No” approach failed in America in the 80s, we must consider what we are really saying when we tell kids this.  “Just say no!” means say no, without reservation, without due consideration.

Homeless by SEO Jester

Homeless Person by SEO Jester

Close your mind to the very possibility of taking drugs.  Drugs are bad and will mess up your life.  While all this is true, unfortunately kids learn by challenging ideas, not by being told how to think.

Saying to a child, “Just do this!” doesn’t leave much room for a teaching moment.  After all, how can one learn under compulsion?  And, sometimes kids even do what we don’t want them to do in response.  Sometimes they are even downright defiant.

Compound this with the fact that in many instances, information on drugs was not completely accurate.  For instance, claims that marijuana is “slightly less dangerous” than heroin or amphetamines were common in the 80s in America.  (How many of you 80s kids out there remember this?)  Here’s where the issues begin accumulating quickly.

Satan's Furnace by torbakhopper - Crack Pipe

Satans’ Furnace (Crack Pipe) by torbakhopper

Adolescents were often told marijuana stunts growth,  can grow a man breasts like a woman, and damages the brain.  Users were depicted as violent.  They stole to buy their drugs, we were told.  The information was not based in evidence, but rather a viewpoint that drugs are bad, and kids must be kept away at all costs.

This viewpoint, and the good intentions behind it, failed miserably.  Parents, teachers, and counselors wanted kids away from drugs at all costs.  The strategy that they chose was probably not best, but this is what they themselves encountered as youths.  However, it was a different time, a different social idiom.

Then, there were the kids in college and high school involved in extra-curricular activities, sports, and academically successful.  All this while maintaining a high school A-list social life.  Some of these kids smoked weed.  Many drank socially. And, many didn’t hide these facts.  This surely had many other kids thinking and wondering.

Also, many kids invariably knew elders from past generations, some only slightly older, both family and neighbors, who casually smoked marijuana and had amazing careers or longtime steady jobs, great families, and beautiful, well-maintained  homes.  None seemed particularly brain damaged. Some were even quite intelligent and funny.

There Is No Food At The Fair by Kenneth Konica littlebiglens

Mr. Smith Loves His Cheeseburgers and Strawberry Shakes Twice Daily. Image:”There Is No Food At The Fair” by Kenneth Konica littlebiglens

And, as far as most could tell, no man partaking of the herb ever grew any sizable breasts.  Sure, all the kids in the neighborhood agreed that Mr. Smith, from the local cart race place,  looked…unusual…but he never smoked weed, only ate and ate at the local burger joint every single day and night and yelled at the kids smoking weed in his amusement park, telling them it’s grown by the  devil himself.  If anything, eating burgers and shakes with abandon like Mr. Smith will do that to your figure, not marijuana!

Once kids saw one claim about drugs as inaccurate or dubious, their trust in other well-established facts dissipates. If a joint doesn’t make anyone at school violent as claimed, then maybe heroin isn’t so bad.  This may not be the clearest of thinking, but it’s what occurs once a trusted source of information is spurned.

Super Grape Ape by Shadowhound

Super Grape Ape Marijuana Flower Macro. Image by Shadowhound

There’s no telling what may happen next.  Therefore, keeping kids trusting parents and teachers and drug education officers is essential.  Their words may save many future kids’ lives.  The conclusion from this is that we should always present verifiable facts about drugs, backed by medical research and health science.

“Reefer Madness” and other comical notions from the distant past have little place in our information-driven society where we, and our society’s adolescents,  place a premium on accuracy of data. Back in the “good old days”, there was no Internet or instant fact checking via phone. There was radio, which left a lot to the imagination, as well as movies and films, and maybe a few had TVs.  Kids then were a lot more gullible, growing up in a very narrow world, exposed to a lot less information.  They had images about the world, not facts.  It was a different time.

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos DRUGS

Heroin Needle and Powdered Heroin by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Sure, there were always the “burnout” kids at school, gobbling up any and all drugs available, often including marijuana.  But they also were the kids who started drinking in fifth grade on a regular basis, smoked cigarette and weed in middle school, and by the time they were in high school taking anything that could be ingested, snorted, or injected.  Many engaged in petty crimes from an early age.

These kids served as an example of what not to be.  And, we all knew who they were from even elementary school.

Looking at these kids, the lesson  wasn’t so much about not taking drugs, but more about being responsible, not hanging out with the “wrong crowd”, and keeping school as a high priority.  Kids did not want to end up like the “wastoid” kids who cut classes to smoke weed and drink 40s  by the train tracks.

These were the drug “misusers”, having a cold Budweiser at 9 AM on a Monday morning, instead of being in school, dealing with each day, waiting eagerly for Friday night  to do their thing, as the successful students who used marijuana or drank did.

As illegal as it may have been due to age restriction of alcohol and prohibition of marijuana, this was still a better choice than a Monday morning chaser followed by three joints.  Even better, many kids chose to avoid drugs and alcohol altogether, realizing such have no place in the life of a serious student.

"Track Marks" by Travis Leach. The Kids By The Train Tracks.

The Kids by the Tracks Were Lost. Image: “Track Marks” by Travis Leach.

The example kids by the tracks set left a frightful vision in the minds of many, indelibly scarring us with images of peers we both felt sorry for and were extremely vexed by.

In fairness, most of those kids had rather challenging backgrounds.  Violence at home, parental neglect, poverty, a poor attitude toward scholastic achievement attributable to a lack of good role models, were all factors.

These were the kids “running wild.”  Many ended up as heroin addicts, criminals, or alcoholics.  Some were the very children of addicts and alcoholics.  They were disadvantaged from the start, with too much time alone, too much freedom, and too little guidance and direction in life.

The majority of kids didn’t fit into this small group, whose members were rather special: oddly antisocial individuals clearly suffering from life’s pains, even at the age of fifteen.  They didn’t belong, and their story goes well beyond drug addiction or alcoholism, though these substances were often catalysts for disaster in their lives.  These kids were doomed from the start.  The Drug War was never going to save them.  But what about everyone else?

Kids were  told, essentially, don’t think about it.  Don’t weight the evidence.  Just say no, reflexively!  Unfortunately for Drug Warriors, but wonderful for the human race, we are an inquisitive lot, always trying to find answers.  The answers we provided to kids during the 80s Drug War were incomplete,  even rife with misinformation.

Further, kids never like being commanded without explanation.  Telling kids, “because I said so” may establish your authority as parent or teacher, but leaves little room for kids to gain any understanding from the situation.

When cigarettes and smoking became the focus of health advocates, the approach was as different as any could be from the War on Drugs.  Cigarettes were legal.  Kids even bought packs at local delis with little hassle.  That changed. Laws made it so.

Party Drinks by Flyover

Keg Parties Down by the River. Image: Party Drinks by Flyover

It would be more challenging, even still, to steer kids away from a legal, socially sanctioned substance that  a sympathetic  older friend or sibling could still buy for them, than would be the case with illegal drugs.  The stigma of illegality acts as a real deterrent, at least in some instances.  For the kids not already committing crimes, illegality is a real deterrent.

Most significantly,  the health effects of cigarettes were presented honestly.  Cigarettes were not conflated with arsenic, mothballs, or crack cocaine; the public service ads  aimed at presenting truthful, well-researched information, and powerfully.  Here, the mission to extinguish cigarettes diverged from the War on Drugs only a decade or so  before.

Relying on gruesome, but real, blunt imagery, commercials graphically depicting victims  of health conditions that developed from years of cigarette smoking, from yellow teeth to amputated digits, and a subsequent frank discussion on health effects managed to strongly curb interest in cigarette smoking among our nation’s youth.

They weren’t stupid.  Presented with the facts in all their truth, boldness, and vivid imagery, kids learned to say no to cigarettes.  We do teach critical thinking skills to our students; here was a chance to exercise such skills.

Image by Zach Petersen. Keg Party 50 Friends.

Keg Party 50 Friends by Zach Petersen

Health is now a significant part of most  adolescents’ concerns.  Kids do yoga, meditate, count their steps, go to the gym, and try to stay healthy because they have been taught that wellness is one of life’s greatest gifts.  This is true, and our culture’s present focus on self-help, improving habits and diet, and exercising and keeping active are incredible developments in our society.

Kids are not dumb.  If you lie to them , or mislead them, or tell them what to do without explaining why they should make such a choice, they will not listen.  Good intentions are not sufficient to save America’s youth from the current scourge of opiates, both pills and heroin, or from the creeping methamphetamine epidemic in some parts of our country.

Or, from “synthetic marijuana”, actually plants having nothing at all to do with marijuana, sprayed with noxious chemicals also not ever found naturally occurring in marijuana, and potentially lethal, at that.  (True Synthetic  marijuana, known as Marinol®,  is actually an FDA-approved drug for chemotherapy nausea.) The confusion continues…

Reefer Madness Film Poster

Reefer Madness Film Poster

Education is key.  Education entails learning, not reciting declarations to make a decision or promise without due consideration.  Kid should not be taking  any drugs, including alcohol and marijuana.  Kids should not smoke cigarettes.  They must learn WHY this is the case, if we mean to succeed with efforts to accomplish this.

The only means we have for attaining such goals, as recent history has shown, is by an honest, fact-filled presentation, framed objectively and dispassionately.  Seeing the man on the respirator in the anti-smoking PSA was chilling. And still is.

There is no arguing with effectiveness; time has proven that the approach we must take to substance abuse among adolescents must respect their right to make their own choices, yet keep the information flow high, so that such choices are informed by fact, and not fiction.  If we do anything else, we risk alienating our kids, and worse, causing them to lose trust in anything we say.

At this point, D.A.R.E. focuses more on teen empowerment and assertiveness than it had in the 1980s, which is key.  Role playing and more informed methods of teaching are utilized.  Kids need to become aware that the choice is theirs to make, and they can choose for themselves.  Assertiveness skills are crucial in life in so many ways, and can help steer a kid forward in life, avoiding the distractions along the path that can pull them away from their goals.

We’re learning.  As long as we avoid repeating past errors and build on prior successes, kids will gradually begin thinking of drug and alcohol abuse in terms adults would wish to see them thinking in.  Until that time, we must constantly refine even our noblest efforts.

 NJMassage.info

(C) Copyright 2017 D Alban, H Miller. Authored by D Alban

Posted in Child Health, Current Events in NJ, Evidence-Based Health Care, Personal Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pregnant Women’s Massage: Why Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong

D Carlier Pregnant Woman and Child

Pregnant Woman and Child by D Carlier

Practically everyone in North America today knows who Oprah is.  And New Jersey’s own

Shira Gal Miss Pupik. Pregnant Belly.

Pregnant Woman’s Belly by Shira Gal Miss Pupik.

Dr. Oz.  “How exactly is this relevant?”, you’re surely wondering aloud by now. With the introduction of these familiar household names, we associate yoga, alternative medicine, and learning about self empowerment by taking control of one’s health, mental emotional, and physical.

By now, we are all in the category that only thirty years ago labeled one a tree-hugging oddity.  Most of us use soy, maybe as a creamer in our coffee, maybe as a substitute for cow’s milk.  Others of us do not use soy, having found other non-dairy alternatives that better suit us.  We all know the value of meditation, exercise, and stretching to keep fit with yoga.

Pregnant-By-Jaimee

Pregnant Woman by Jaimee

We even know about Massage Therapy.  Another native of the Jersey Shore, Bridget Turnbauch, was on Dr. Oz years ago, extolling the many benefits of Therapeutic Massage.  By now, we are all far more savvy than we were just a generation ago, understanding that lifestyle and habits influence epigenetics, and overall health, in innumerable ways.

But we still carry the notion that Therapeutic Massage during pregnancy is an extreme hazard, a dangerous practice that can cause more harm than help.  We carry a number of preconceived misconceptions about Pregnant Women’s Massage. Here, the most common misconceptions shall be addressed. Thus article will empower the reader to know that Pregnancy Massage is safe, helpful, and even beneficial.

Pregnant Woman In Light And Shadow

Pregnant Woman In Light and Shadow

Can a Pregnant Woman Receive  A Massage During The First Trimester?

The short answer is “yes”; the long answer is also “yes.”  Prenatal Massage is considered safe and effective.  Even in the first trimester.  Your obstetrician doesn’t even have to sign off on this.  The only time that is necessary is when a woman is experiencing complications.  In that case, of course your doctor should be alerted to everything you’re planning to do, and her approval should determine your course of action.

Can Prenatal Massage hurt the baby?

Dennis Natrayon's Image Laura During Pregnancy

Laura During Pregnancy by Dennis Natrayon

A carefully executed Therapeutic Massage session will not ever involve anything that could hurt the fetus.  Trained prenatal Massage Therapists know how to position a woman’s body so that blood flow is not impeded, nor are nerves painfully impinged.  This knowledge is likely not something the patient even possesses.  Learning about body positioning is a useful added benefit to receiving body work while pregnant.

Is it possible for pregnancy massage to cause a miscarriage?

This is also not based in any kind of evidence.  Even the commonly referred to reflexology points that have been shunned because they were purported to cause uterine contractions, have been studied and found not quite the hazard they were once thought to be.  In fact, there was no hazard found with such points.  The baby  benefits from the Mom having a massage.  Her blood chemistry and body function metric change for the better, and that affects the baby directly, in real time.

Is Pregnant Women’s Massage dangerous for women?

Newborn Baby By SeattleEye

Newborn Baby by Seattle Eye

The only time Massage For Pregnant Women is conta-indicated, is when there are complications.  In these instances, a doctor must approve of this, and prescribe Massage Therapy.  If your therapist doesn’t ask you if you have complications, and you are having issues, please find a more qualified LMT.  Even with complications, Therapeutic Massage is often approvedby the physician.  As with massage for the general population, there are times when Massage Therapy is not an appropriate course of treatment.  This includes while a patient is experiencing fever, or while an injury is in its acute phase.

Not only is a massage not hazardous  for women and the unborn fetus, but it’s been proven to actually be beneficial.  Health studies have demonstrated that prenatal massage hold many benefits.  It’s precisely the opposite of what’s commonly believed.

In time, these ideas and attitudes will shift to conceptions rooted in fact and truth.  It’s just a matter of “Alternative Medicine”, including Therapeutic Massage, becoming increasingly mainstreamed into American society.  It will happen naturally, just as out shift to soy-based products and Earth-friendly toilet paper have.  It only takes time.

Consider how herbal remedies were regarded in the 1980s.  Proponents were deemed overzealous quacks.  Now studying phytochemicals and plant-based solutions to health is far more common, with vast amounts of university research pouring out every year.

It’s the results of that research that propels more funding and interest in alternative plant-based healing.  The same is slowly happening with Massage Therapy, as the topic begins to receive more of a focus, with regard to health studies.

Posted in At-Home Massage Articles, Evidence-Based Health Care, Evidence-Based Massage Therapy, Massage and Health, Massage Research, Massage Studies, Post-Natal Massage, Pre-Natal Massage, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe Touch, Unsafe Touch, and Confusion: Why Children May Be Receiving The Wrong Signals

Kids benefit from positive touch Pediatric Massage Therapists must be  more aware of personal boundaries than  LMTs practicing on most other client populations.  Of course, working on babies, kids, and adolescents, is challenging.     Compound that with the real specter of child abuse, and you can see why such a concern exists.

Children of all ages benefit from Massage Therapy in so many ways.  Touch is essential to the proper development of kids, socially, mentally, and emotionally. Along with this is the idea that there is “safe touch” and “unsafe touch” (formerly referred to as”good” and “bad”, however these terms can be misleading), and Massage Therapy can help kids strengthen their personal boundaries, helping them to differentiate.  Kids learn that safe touch is therapeutic.  It is never imposing.  The child is in control of the session, and has the power to ask for a certain area to be worked more, less, or not at all.

This is a key concept I try to get kids to understand, even before we begin the first session.  I tell them that it is their session, and they should be comfortable at all times.  Of course, I then ask numerous times if the pressure is OK, if the technique is helpful, and whether they’re comfortable.

Children of all ages like having this power and enjoy exercising it.  There are so many times kids are powerless in the face of authority: Teachers, parents, elders, religious leaders, and even older siblings can all keep kids from feeling autonomous and in control of situations.

Pediatric Massage and Good Touch“Unsafe Touch” is something kids already know about.  It refers to (inappropriate) touch that is in violation of their personal boundaries and comfort.  We teach our kids to be fearful of strangers and that no one should be touching them in any way in their private area.  This is a good thing.  Children must be empowered to understand that their body is their own and no one else’s.

This also helps later in life, as kids become young adults.  By the time kids are dating, they must know this, and know it well.  They must trust and respect their own feelings and intuition about a situation.

Aiding  kids in becoming more assertive about enforcing their boundaries is key.  This one lesson can prevent your child from being abused in so many ways, now and as an adult. Assertiveness is a quality every child must develop, and will help them throughout their lives.

Learning that they have the right to say, “No!” to anyone, in any position, violating, or attempting to violate, their boundaries may be one of life’s most vital lessons.  Kids must further know that it’s not only perfectly acceptable to tell parents about any boundary violations, but that it may save their lives.

Child With GrandmaKids learn that  “safe touch”, or “good touch”, includes Grandma holding them and kissing their cheek, Mom or Dad hugging them close, and other socially acceptable, normal modes of tactile communication.  Essentially, that’s what touch is: Another way we communicate with one another, sometimes more deeply than words.  “Safe Touch” also may include Massage Therapy, chiropractic care, or even a visit to the physician.  However, kids need to understand – and clearly – that even trusted loved ones, or even health care professionals, still do not have the right to touch them in places that are off limits.

Pediatrician Examining Child  As An Example of Positive Touch

I think we do a good job of teaching our kids about abuse and sexual exploitation.  Even if make them overly cautious, in no way is this a hazard to their development.  We do live in a touch-averse culture here in America.  This may be a reaction to child exploitation, but parents must know that they can be affectionate with their kids.  All touch is not bad, and without differentiating good from bad touch, kids will end up confused.  This lesson must be explained carefully and clearly. Good touch must be demonstrated, or else kids will be starved for touch.

Helping A Child In The WaterIf you are so touch-averse that you would not save a child struggling in the waves because you are afraid to hold her hand and pull her out of the waves, that is not good.  Believe it or not, this was my own experience, long before a becoming a CPMT.  While respecting boundaries is wonderful, understanding that “Safe Touch” exists prevents such confusion.  “Safe Touch” is helpful, respectful, and kind.  “Safe Touch” may be an expression of love by parents.  It may also be Therapeutic or life-saving, as when a lifeguard pulls a child from the water, or when a doctor performs an examination.

Children At The Airport When traveling by air, kids may be subject to screening at airports.  It is imperative that this situation is explained fully  beforehand, during, and after.  Let kids ask questions.  This is serious.  We train our kids to enforce their personal  boundaries, but then, a person in authority, a stranger that they do not know, is permitted to touch them, even where we tell them, repeatedly, no one should ever touch them.  This creates confusion, and may actually prime kids for abuse by authority figures.  We learn by situations and by life.  John Dewey, the famed American educator, fully understood the value of real-life experience and how it affects the learning process.

This situation has an extremely high potential to befuddle kids. They may even come away from this all thinking that any authority figure improperly touching them  may do so at will.  You must be clear; you must explain why the screenings are done, how it protects our safety, and how this is very different than exploitative situations.  You may try role playing with your kids, helping them to learn by play.

Children at the airportChildren must come away with the full comprehension  that this is a unique situation, and Mom and Dad are right there.  The same should be done at the doctor’s when an exam requires the doctor to examine the child’s private area.  Kids must know these are unique situations, and that when Mom or Dad aren’t present, it is never acceptable.  Otherwise, a few stress-filled minutes at an airport can undo your painstaking efforts to raise your kids with an appreciation of their autonomy and right to enforce their physical boundaries.

Respecting  one’s own physical boundaries is just the first step for children’s empowerment.  Kids must also understand that they have mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries, that they are a unique individual entitled to control their own destiny.  Without such an understanding, your child may end up emotionally, physically, or even sexually abused.  Further, kids must learn HOW to enforce their boundaries.

US Coast Guard families and service members march in New York City's Veterans Day Parade

It begins with leaning to say, “No!” to anyone, and ends with knowing telling parents of any attempted boundary violations, by anyone, even peers, is something that is important.  Raising assertive kids should be the goal of all parents. Sadly, many do not even know this is important, simply because they have no familiarity with the concept.

This is a lifelong lesson that will help us forge a nation of leaders, boys and girls who will grow into tomorrow’s men and women, Americans who are fearless, and know their rights.  It also helps kids to grow up respecting the boundaries of others.  All in all, I can think of no more important lesson.  As a former educator, I know that mastery of subject matter, development of analytical thinking skills, and memorization are secondary to these goals.

Because I saw the need to teach kids about assertiveness, I am forming Assertive Kids , a nonprofit foundation tasked with empowering kids by assertiveness education. Please visit our web site for details or to donate.

(C) 2017 H Miller, D Alban. Authored by D Alban.

Posted in At-Home Massage Articles, Child Health, Evidence-Based Health Care, Massage and Assertiveness, Massage and Culture, Massage and Health, Massage For Children, Non-Profit Foundations, Personal Growth, Stopping Kids Bullying | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Tebow Foundation’s 2017 Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Marriot Had Kids Dancing and Parents Relaxing

BRIDGEWATER, NJ, USA, February 10, 2017/NJmassage.info/articles – On February 10th, a chilly, yet clear, Friday evening, the Bridgewater Marriot was, nonetheless, packed and pumping as  The Tim Tebow Foundation’s Annual Night To Shine prom party celebrated People with Special Needs.  This is the seventh anniversary of the inception of the Night To Shine.  Guests were attired in tuxes and evening gowns, dancing and partying in a decked-out ballroom, as bassy tunes vibrated the space.

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

As the kids celebrated and experienced a night of partying and fun, their families had the option of meeting one another and socializing in a large conference hall.  There was coffee and tea, a meal with salad on the side.  From here you could still feel the bass, but it was a bit quieter. Liquid Church, one of the sponsors tasked with arranging the event, locally, had Mountainside On-Site Massage Therapy provide seated chair massage to the parents and family.
Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

Of course, everyone was relieved to get a massage. Preparing for a prom is no easy task. And, for Moms and Dads with daughters, the task is all the more time-consuming. Nails must get done. Hair must be styled.  And more. Too many details to mention, yet each one important.  Parents relaxed and dined as a line formed near the Chair Massage stations.

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New JerseyTim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

Chair Massage is performed fully clothed without any oil or lotion. Guests sit on the chair in a manner that resembles how one would sit on a motorcycle. If you haven’t ever ridden a motorcycle, don’t feel confused; that was just a crude comparison, anyway.  Your arms do not grip handlebars. Instead, there is a cushioned rest for them.  Your face is prone, as your head rests in a padded cradle identical to those found on massage tables.  Perhaps you’ve seen chair massage at the mall. If not, there’s always Google and YouTube.

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

The two Massage Therapists kept busy the entire time as Moms and Dads could finally relax.  If you haven’t yet had an adolescent of yours attend prom, think back to your own.  Preparation is fairly stressful. Without a doubt, parents left with less tight shoulders, ready to fully appreciate the crowning ceremony led by Pastor John of Liquid Church.  The parents definitely appreciated that consideration was made for their comfort.

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New JerseyTim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New JerseyTo learn more about the Tim Tebow Foundation, check out   TimTebowFoundation.org.  The Liquid Church has a web site of its own at LiquidChurch.com.  These noble organizations have helped kids all over the United States to have a special night all their own, kids who might not have otherwise had an opportunity for such a wonderful memory and positive experience.

Tim Tebow and Liquid Church Present Night To Shine At The Bridgewater Ballroom in New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(C) Copyright 2017 D Alban

Posted in Child Health, Corporate Chair Massage, Current Events in NJ, Massage and Culture, Non-Profit Foundations, On Site Chair Massage, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should A Massage Therapy Session Hurt?

Authored by: D Alban

NEW YORK. (February 21, 2017) —  Should a massage hurt?  Short answer: no; slightly longer answer: it depends on your personal pain tolerance, modality and massage style, condition of health, and session goals,  but never beyond comfort.

If you’ve ever been to a Massage Therapist, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question.  Probably, this question arose in your mind because you were experiencing a massage session that was painful.  Perhaps, extremely painful.  Perhaps you spoke out about the painfulness, and the Massage Therapist replied without really listening, mindlessly repeating something to the effect of, “no pain, no gain”, not adjusting their technique in the least.

Or, maybe you didn’t speak up at all.  Maybe you just kept it all inside, because you wanted to get the most from the session, or maybe you thought that because of her training and experience, the therapist knew best.  Your Massage Therapist doesn’t always know best.

Massage Therapy For A USAF Vet TORCH MAGAZINE

Massage Therapy For A USAF Vet
TORCH MAGAZINE

Firstly, always speak up if you are in pain.  It’s your right, and it’s the way a therapist gets feedback.  Maybe your therapist inquired about the pressure and technique.  A good therapist will.

However, we don’t always have the luxury of having a session with a Massage Therapist possessing  amazing communication skills.  As a vital part of her skill set, communicating with massage recipients is essential.

If a therapist ignores you, speak up again!  If she doesn’t seem to comprehend that she is torturing you, respectfully request  that she end the session.  You must enforce your boundaries, and using too much pressure, inflicting undue pain,  is a form of boundary violation.

So, we must assume, then, that Massage Therapy should not hurt, correct?

Depending upon whom you ask, the answer will vary significantly.  How can this be so?  Depending upon a Massage Therapist’s schooling, and modality of focus, the answer might be “no”, “yes”, or  even “sometimes.”  Some specializations, such as Rolfing, are more painful.  Deep tissue massage may  be as well.

Swedish Massage may be done deeply or with less pressure; what’s commonly referred to as “deep tissue” massage is actually Swedish technique with exaggerated pressure.  And, there are dozens and dozens of techniques.  Some are inherently more painful.  Others, like craniosacral therapy, should never even approach painfulness.

We can  then agree that sometimes a massage session might hurt.  But how much pain is acceptable? When should I tell my therapist to lighten up?  Should I let her pull my arm

Massage

Massage by Galex

like taffy?  Isn’t the extreme pain an indication that she’s taken it too far?

You should  ask that your massage therapist alter her technique, if it’s hurting  beyond what you find acceptable.  If you really don’t like an elbow in the lower  back, you don’t have to bear the pain of an elbow in your lower back.  It’s that simple.  You are in control; it’s your session.

If the face cradle is choking you, please speak up!  This mean that your Massage Therapist didn’t adjust the face-rest  properly.  You must say something! (see past article on this topic by clicking here.)

If you’re working on an injury or localized issue, and you’re a professional athlete, you may have different goals for your session than a schoolteacher seeking an hour of pure relaxation just to soothe her nerves after mid-terms.  Your goals, the modality in use, and your personal tolerance for pain should all factor in.

But this isn’t, by any means, some calculation you have to make; if something the therapist is doing is agonizing, verbalize this right away! There’s nothing to figure out. Let your therapist explain why it is hurting so much, as well as why she’s chosen such a painful technique to mitigate the issue.  Trust yourself and your body’s perceptions.

And, even if the therapist insists pain is the only option, you should again respectfully assert that you’d prefer less pressure and less pain.  In truth, more pressure isn’t always better, even for areas where you have experienced past issues.  Massage Therapy does not work better with a more forceful technique.

This is akin to suggesting that a painter will create more masterful works by applying more pressure to the canvas with his brush.  Clearly, this is a vast oversimplification, if not an outright untruth.  More care and attention, more feeling and intuition, and more creative vision make both better painters and Massage Therapists.

Sports Massage

Sports Massage by CaliCow

What you must remember is that a Massage Therapy session should absolutely never feel like your body is being damaged, and should never be more painful than your pain tolerance permits.  Your tolerance is a personal variable different for everyone, as are your goals for session outcome, and the type of massage modality being used.  Trust yourself.  You know when something is causing your back to tighten up more, a reflexive response to too much pressure.

If your body is tightening, it’s a sure sign the therapist is overwhelming you with pressure, regardless of whether she knows it or will even acknowledge it.  It’s your duty  as a massage consumer to be assertive about this issue, if necessary, in order to bring it to the consciousness of your therapist.  No Massage Therapist can be good if she cannot adjust her technique to an individual’s needs and specific requests.

Keeping a client in a constant state of pain can also raise blood pressure; with high blood pressure and many other conditions, any technique that raises blood pressure is contraindicated.  If you have high blood pressure, by all means, speak out and put an end to a potentially dangerous situation! Kindly ask that the therapist lighten up.  A lot.  It’s your fundamental right, after all.

It doesn’t make you “tough” or a “real man” or “self-realized woman” to lie there in agony, quietly enduring with gritted teeth and clenched fists, as your back and various random muscles spasm under the strain of too much pressure, directed carelessly upon your poor muscles, connective tissue and fascia, and body, in general.

(C) Copyright 2017 D Alban, H Miller, NJMassage.info. D Alban, Author.

Posted in At-Home Massage Articles, Corporate Chair Massage, Evidence-Based Health Care, Evidence-Based Massage Therapy, Massage and Assertiveness, Massage and Culture, Massage and Health, Massage At Work, On Site Chair Massage, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher Appreciation Week Chair Massage: Schools Give Back To Staff With Chair Massage

Chair massage for teachers

Chair Massage For Teachers! Yay!

Teacher Appreciation Week was celebrated throughout New Jersey this week, as educators and support staff were shown just how much they and their hard were appreciated by the students, parents, and administrators.

Traditionally, teachers were given a luncheon or even a small gift.  On-Site Chair Massage is a new addition to the more traditional ideas.  At a variety of schools in New Jersey, from pre-schools to elementary and even high schools, teachers were treated to seated Chair Massage during their workday. Some schools decided to keep it all a big surprise.  Others informed the teachers ahead of time, and everyone eagerly waited for the day of relaxation.

Workplace Chair Massage At School

Chair Massage isn’t something everyone has experienced.  In fact, many of the teachers had never had a Chair Massage before.  It is a little different than what many are accustomed to: The recipient remains fully clothed an no oils or lotions are used.  The chairs have a small footprint, enabling Massage Therapists to work in even cramped areas.

Educators Receive Chair Massage

Educators Receive Chair Massage

The Marion P. Thomas Charter School operates a number of campuses throughout New Jersey. It’s motto is, “It Takes A Whole Village to Raise a Child” and was formed in 1999 by a group of native Newark residents seeking to empower the next generation.

Mountainside On-Site Massage Therapy provided Chair Massage to teachers and staff at a number of MPTCS schools in  Newark.  As one might guess, everyone felt a lot less stressed afterwards.  We felt honored to be able to provide our services to everyone present, doing our small part to keep their great efforts going strong.

Flowers For Teacher Appreciation Week

 

 

North Plainfield’s West End Elementary School also gifted their teachers with relaxing Chair Massage.  This was another wonderful educational institution where cultural diversity and respect are keys to the core philosophy.

Everyone was so kind afterwards, letting us know just how much it helped make their day a little less stressed.  It was great knowing we helped them. The PTA graciously funded the event.

We know teaching is difficult work, demanding more energy and focus than most could imagine.  Even a small break from the tension and challenge that teachers commit themselves to in being their best and helping all their students as much as their are able is a good thing.

Marion P Thomas Charter School

Jersey City’s  Empowerment Academy is another amazing charter school.   This is another serious school, where kids go to really become proficient learners.  Kids’ progress is monitored carefully, and the moment help is required, tutors step in to help the children with areas they are finding extremely challenging.  The school’s philosophy seeks to build “experience-based confidence”, which is probably the most important kind.

 

Peaceful Moment Newark Street Art

West End School

The teachers at the Empowerment Academy Charter School were also provided with  Chair Massage for Teacher Appreciation Week.  What the Empowerment Academy aims to do takes hard work. The teachers definitely put in a significant amount of effort and caring keeping to the school’s core philosophy.

 

 

Refreshing and Cleansing Lemon Water for the Teachers

Other schools benefited from Mountainside On-Site Massage Therapy’s services this year as well.  All were amazing places where teachers dedicated their lives to helping kids.  All in all, every year, we find more and more schools inquiring about on-site Chair Massage. As with much else, it’s part of our cultural shift toward holistic solutions, and improved health and wellness.
(C) Copyright H Miller, Dee Alban, NJmassge.Info

Posted in Current Events in NJ, Evidence-Based Health Care, Evidence-Based Massage Therapy, Massage At Work, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling The Burn: Vigorous Exercise And Lactic Acid A Now-Disproven Theory That Just Won’t Go Away

Are you feeling the burn? No; this isn’t going to be a political ad; “feeling the Bern” isn’t quite what we’re discussing here today. This isn’t about politics but rather basic biochemistry, often misunderstood, often mistaught, and affects every person who exercises, loves someone who exercises, or has a patient who exercises.

Nearly everyone’s heard that high-intensity resistance training, distance running, and other forms of intense physical activity create a surplus of lactic acid which builds up in our muscle tissues and causes us to experience that familiar burning sensation.

While there is no denying that exercising intensely causes a feeling like our muscle fibers are on fire, the cause for this phenomenon turns out to be something entirely different than lactic acid, as you have likely been informed.  This is nothing more than a health fallacy.

The lactic acid theory is not new; in fact, it was two 1922  Nobel Prize recipients, Otto Meyerhoff and Archibald V. Hill, who put forth the theory that lactic acid was the culprit.

Runners Feel The Burn. Is Lactic Acid To Blame? Check Out The Article.

Runners Feel The Burn. Is Lactic Acid To Blame? Check Out The Article.

Having a Nobel Prize in carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, it seemed like they would have a good guess.  And it was; until recently when it was proven that lactic acid is not the causative factor, nearly everyone believed this to be true.

In their groundbreaking meta-study, Robergs, R.A., Ghiasvand, F., & Parker, D. (2004). Biochemistry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 287: R502-R516, the authors proposed that the preponderance of evidence points to a rather different cause for the sensation of muscle burn: excess protons.

While fitness trainers, nurses, and doctors everywhere continue to tell patients about lactic acid and “the burn”, the truth has quietly been spreading for the last ten plus years.  “Lactic Acidosis”, after all, is standard fare in the course work of health care professionals, and not everyone has received the update that the theory is defunct.

Carl Whilhelm Sheele, a Swedish chemist who lived in the 18th century, first discovered lactic acid.  It was first isolated in samples of soured milk, and so the moniker “lactic” was appropriate, as it denotes an association with milk and dairy products. By 1922, the understanding of the two Nobel Laureates was that lactic acid was a reaction to the glycolysis reaction, the splitting of sugar for energy, in the absence of oxygen, or anaerobic conditions.

Bodybuilders Feeling the Burn.

Bodybuilders Feeling the Burn.

This theory seemed smart.  It made sense.  It fit with the observable phenomena. But nevertheless, it was completed without factual basis.  While lactic acid does build up in overused muscles, it is not the causes of acidosis, but rather the result.

It turns out that acidosis in muscles is caused by an excess of free protons in the cells and tissues.  Interestingly, it isn’t an organic  compound or complex substance. While protons cannot be seen, they can be easily measured.

If you have recently taken biochemistry, or if you’re a serious health professional, you’ll recall that a free hydrogen ion  is a proton.  ATP, when hydrolyzed by a water molecule, is split into ADP and phosphate.  A by-product is the release of a single hydrogen ion.

As you may recall, pH is the measure of the number of free hydrogen ions in a solution, or mixture of liquid. At a lower pH, there are more free hydrogen atoms. This is what makes such a liquid acidic. When the pH is higher, there are fewer free hydrogen ions. This means it’s more basic.

So where’s the lactate from, anyway? Fitness therapists, nurses, physicians of all types, and injury recovery specialists will already be scoffing, ready to pull out their dusty books from university.  Hold on. Before you waste the effort lifting a book, Robergs, Ghiasvand, and Parker have a response.  In their 2004 study, they cite the accumulation of lactate as the result of free pyruvate and protons from glycolysis of carbohydrates joining, each pyruvate molecule linking with precisely two free protons.

Yoga Practitioners, young, middle-aged, and older, feel the burn! Lactic acid is NOT to blame. Read on!

Yoga Practitioners, young, middle-aged, and older, feel the burn! Lactic acid is NOT to blame. Read on!

Thus, the creation of lactate is the body’s way of attempting to raise tissue pH, by mopping up the free hydrogen ions created from vigorous muscle exercise. The body does not create lactic acid in this reaction, but rather lactate.  Lactic acid releases hydrogen ions at pH of less than neutral by definition. Once this ion is lost, the lactic compound can then link with a sodium or potassium ion to form an avid salt. Roberts et al. (2004) details this reaction for those whose interest has been piqued by this article. Click here

So when you return to the clinic and your colleagues begin ranting about lactic acid build-up, quietly and calmly direct them to the Roberts study. Its’ already twelve years and the myth of lactic acidosis just won’t end. Does it really matter one way or another?

For all practical purposes, health care professionals will continue helping patients as they had before. But new knowledge, elucidation of vague half-truths, and discovery should always be welcome.

This is especially true for health care providers who routinely explain biophysical phenomena to patients, and wish to be as precise and accurate as is possible. If you want to go on believing in a now-disproven lactic acid theory and you aren’t inflicting your erroneous belief on others, it’s not quite the same.

(C) H Miller, Dee Albin, NJMassage.Info

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Couples Massage As A Regular Part of Your Life

'Couple' by Vladimir Pustovit

‘Couple’ by Vladimir Pustovit

Certainly, no one is going to argue that Couples Massage is a wonderful experience for two to share, whether it’s a romantic couple or a couple of friends or sisters.  But most of the time, most Couples Massage clients we see reserve these side-by-side sessions for special occasions.

And while that’s wonderful, and a great way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s Day, it’s a rarity, a special Couples Retreat.  The  more I consider this, the more I realize that many clients enjoy their massage, call us back and say how great they feel, and then disappear for months and months.

When they finally call again, they’re just as tight and tense as ever.  Of course, it’s always

"Couple At Sunset" by Troy Tolley

“Couple At Sunset” by Troy Tolley

amazing to be able to help another person utilizing Therapeutic Massage, however I can’t stop thinking that if these couples were to book more frequently, they would fare better, overall.

Even a five minute massage performed regularly helps over time.  Studies done in a corporate setting using Chair Massage prove this.  Even a single five minute massage session can change a person’s blood pressure, hormone levels, and brain wave activity.  Over time, companies that have regularly scheduled massage for employees find numerous benefits.

Couples Massage, regularly scheduled, whether twice monthly or even less frequently, can help more than a session once or twice a year.  If it helps that much, don’t consider Massage Therapy a luxury, but rather another means to keep well.  Stress creeps.  Often, clients think they’re not stressed only to find, after a Couples Massage session, that both they and their partner were terribly tense.

Roses-By-'Chris-Two-Thirty'

Roses-By-‘Chris-Two-Thirty’

They only recognize this afterwards, feeling a great deal less burdened. Stress can age.  So why do so many feel such an aversion to Therapeutic Massage more than a few times a year? Shifting from a perception of luxury to a perception of health is probably in order.  Of course, it can still be a special time for both you and your loved one.  There’s no reason you have to regard it in a clinical, cold manner.

It’s still a Couples Massage, after all.  And afterwards, the two of you can dine out, order takeout, or just shower and get to sleep.  Just because you get a Couples Massage every fortnight doesn’t mean you should stop feeling like it’s a special time for you and your loved one.  It’s just that now, you’ll have a chance to have a special time restoring yourselves together more frequently.

Neil Lee Utopia takeout

Neil Lee
Utopia takeout

I can understand how Couples Massage is something special for many, many clients.  They reserve their calls for special occasions, booking weeks (or months) in advance to guarantee their reservation.  For many, it’s a yearly tradition.  So of course, going from a yearly Anniversary Couples Massage to a monthly Couples Massage might seem as though it’s taking some of the specialness away from the anniversary.

I promise you that it won’t be so!  To keep the Couples Massage for your loved one’s birthday or whatever holiday special, buy bouquets of flowers, light fifty tea lights, drop rose petals on the floor.  Share a vegan chocolate fondue with strawberries on skewers!  In other words, make the day stand out.   Maybe you could ask the Massage Therapists to bring red or pink sheets for the massage tables, or if they can wear red scrubs.  It never hurts to ask.

Denis Dervisevic Chocolate Fondue

Denis Dervisevic
Chocolate Fondue

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