Forty Days of Postnatal Massage: Asian Indian Tradition of Jaappa Takes Root In New Jersey

Cadence and Newborn by Christopher Allison

Cadence and Newborn by Christopher Allison

During the postpartum period in the days immediately following giving birth, a new mother is recuperating from the stress of birth.   The World Health Organization (WHO) states that  the perinatal  period is the most crucial,  yet most commonly neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies worldwide.

The postnatal period is about six weeks, and is defined strictly as forty days in both Asian Indian and Greek traditional cultures, both of which stretch back into dim antiquity.  During this time, the mother’s body is healing.  Hormone levels begin to change dramatically, the uterus begins to return to it’s pre-pregnancy size, and postpartum vaginal discharge, composed of blood, uterine lining, and mucous, flows out of the body.

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy Birthday Baby!

The Postnatal Period is a time for healing.  It is the time after birth, a time in which the mother’s body, including hormone levels and uterus size, returns to a non-pregnant state.  If  a mother breast-feeds, this will affect hormone levels as well.  Lochia is postpartum vaginal discharge, containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue, and is expelled from the body at this time.

In Eastern Traditional culture, women usually rest after birth.  This is often referred to as ‘sitting a month’ in Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian cultures, medically referred to as ‘confinement’, though the latter term seems to have fallen out of use.  This tradition persists in the present day, and lasts thirty days, or a full month, hence the nomenclature.

Guilherme by Danielli Porace

Guilherme by Danielli Porace

In New Jersey, there is a thriving Asian-Indian culture in the Central part of the state.  Many  residents are either immigrants from India or were born in New Jersey, first-generation Indian-Americans.  Within these communities, there is still a great appreciation for Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional  Indian Culture.

In India (and now New Jersey) women follow a 40 day rest and recuperation period called ‘Jaappa’ in Hindi.  During this time, the new mother is not expected to fulfill either her household or workplace duties.  A special Ayurvedic diet is followed which increases milk production, as well as strengthens the blood by increasing hemoglobin.  Marital relations are discouraged at this time.  And Massage Therapy, for both the Mother and newborn, are often practiced each and every day, without fail.

Infant Massage by Nathan Put-Fernandez

Infant Massage by Nathan Put-Fernandez

Fortunately for mothers in New Jersey, at home Therapeutic Postpartum Massage Therapy is an option at this point.  In India, this is often performed by the new mother’s own mother, or other relative.  In NJ, a  qualified and certified Pregnancy Massage Therapist will provide massage therapy for both the mother and her baby, on site at home.
We have been called to do a forty day Jaappa even when a new Mom’s mother had been flown in from New Delhi.

Even in instances where the new Mom’s mother provides massage, a second daily session is provided by the Certified Therapist.  And in many cases, the new mother’s own mother remains in India, or is visiting and not able to really commit her time to taking care of the daily massage, in addition to other household obligations she has assumed on behalf of her daughter.

Postnatal Massage is designed to help a woman’s body heal from pregnancy.  While pregnancy is natural and not a pathological condition, it does take its toll.  There are even specific exercises a Certified Pregnancy MT may suggest that will help the tummy to heal properly.  And there are a lot of other specifics, regarding Touch Therapy,  that apply only to a woman who has just recently given birth.

Traditional Ayurvedic Massage may differ in some respects from what many Certified Pregnancy MTs provide.  For instance, the type of oil used, as well as its temperature, are essential considerations in Ayurvedic Massage.  Not so with most Western-oriented Pregnancy Massage Therapists.

Ideally, a therapist would be well  versed in Ayurvedic massage technique and theory, as well as being Certified in  Pregnancy and Postnatal Massage Technique, in order to draw the best from both traditional Indian  and contemporary Western practice.

Mother and Baby by Nathan Put-Fernandez.

Mother and Baby by Nathan Put-Fernandez.

Does it work?  Do women recover from pregnancy more thoroughly  after Jaappa for forty days?  Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no studies have been conducted determining whether women practicing confinement after pregnancy, or confinement with Massage Therapy, fare better than new mothers opting to forego this time designated by many world cultures as a time of healing.  However, my intuition leads me to think the answer is likely a resounding, “yes.”

Resting Postpartum Mommy and Infant by Daniel Iggers

Resting Postpartum Mommy and Infant by Daniel Iggers

Studies lacking, there is an anecdotal evidence record spanning back thousands of years in India, as well as other traditional cultures, suggesting that Jaappa, and similar practices that aim to bar a new mother from activity, provide her with rest, massage, and a special diet, are effective and worth continuing.  And as a culture is transplanted nearly half a world away, I would imagine that what’s essential will remain a part of people’s lives.

At the very least, the experience will be relaxing and help the new Mom to feel better, emotionally.   And, present research does demonstrate that among postpartum women, Massage Therapy (during pregnancy, specifically) has been shown to decrease the number of women experiencing depression once baby is born.  (Click this link to view study showing pregnancy massage  yields  positive post-partum effects)

Swathi and Mom by Prati Photography.

Swathi and Mom by Prati Photography.

The best-case scenario, as well as the one most likely to be the reality considering the benefits already known about massage,  would include a myriad of diverse benefits for both mother and  baby, reaching far beyond helping to elevate mood or ease depression.  While such effects on a person’s feelings and sense of well being are important and noteworthy, the current body of research suggests that these may only be the beginning of what may one day be a vast array of known Massage Therapy benefits for postpartum women.

Many, many  research studies have been conducted regarding the efficacy of Infant Massage.  It seems that at present, we know more about how Massage Therapy affects the infant than its effects on pregnant, or postpartum, women, or how an extended Jaappa affects everything.  Studies have only recently begun in this field of inquiry, and are presently much-needed.

Woman From India Pregnant in NYC, Phillippe Put.

Woman From India Pregnant in NYC, Phillippe Put.

We do expect that once this topic is studied in depth, results will demonstrate that Massage Therapy is effective at helping new Moms to heal after birth, just as so many mothers and grandmothers born in traditional cultures know without having to read an abstract.  The real question is not whether Massage is helpful in this situation, but rather how helpful, and in which specific  ways.

A few studies about Massage Therapy do exist, already, that  point to the need for further investigation regarding Massage and Postpartum women, specifically.   Studies involving  the general population as a sample group have shown that  Massage Therapy increases oxytocin hormone levels and decreases adrenocorticotrophin and cortisol hormones, both  associated with stress (Click here to Link to List of Massage Studies Focusing on Stress) This is significant because oxytocin levels are correlated positively with milk production in lactating women.

The  results of this study, therefore, while not specifically pertaining to postnatal women as a group, do suggest that Massage Therapy may have an  ancillary benefit for postpartum  lactating women.  And this is but one example of (yet another)  topic that is overdue for serious inquiry.   Studies involving Massage and postpartum women as a group, as well as Jaappa, or Massage Therapy conducted daily over the span of thirty or forty days for such a group, should be quite informative  and yield  some interesting results.
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(C)  Copyright 2015 ‘At Home Massage in NJ’, H.  Miller.

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Couples Massage And Further Study: Could Having Sessions Together Be Demonstrated To Have Synergistic, Rather Than Additive, Effects?

'Couple' Image By Mr. Hayata

‘Couple’ Image By Mr. Hayata

Couples Massage is definitely a term that has finally become a bit more widely known as of late.  It’s definitely a contemporary term, jargon for fast-paced-urban-living-service-oriented life in  the 2010s.

One thing that most couples can agree on is that an evening of side-by-side Therapeutic Massage is a great way to spend time together.  Relaxing together is great.

Relatively few studies have been conducted about Therapeutic Massage, as compared with  other healing modalities.  At Massage-Studies.NJMassage.Info, we have a listing of hundreds of studies involving Massage Therapy, most published  within the last ten years.  And, more are added every week!  However, while the number of study abstracts listed  grow exponentially, it is still an unfamiliar  topic for most researchers, in most settings.

Swedish-Couples-Massage-By-Foundry-Park-Inn

Swedish Couples Massage by Foundry Park Inn

So far, I’ve never read  a study concerning  how Couples Massage may affect healing.  By this, I am really asking whether side-by-side Therapeutic Massage, with someone you feel close with (this is key; it need not be a romantic couple – Moms and daughters, siblings, are both good examples!), can result in greater benefits than having the massage sessions alone.

Would the results show that individuals relax more after a Couples Massage session, as compared with traditional massage with one therapist?  Or would the results suggest that there is an even stronger healing trend, affecting more than merely relaxation?  Possibly, even stronger  pain relief or  a greater decrease in suffering associated with specific conditions, would be more evident   after a Couples Massage session.

Couple-Tasting-The-Sun-By-Pedro-Ribeiro-SimõesPersonally, I think that the answer may be yes.  My observations doing At Home Couples Massage in New Jersey for the last ten years lead me to wonder if there is some sort of link between having a Therapeutic Massage session with someone you trust and love, and getting more out of the session, overall.

It could simply be that people relax more around someone they know and trust, and this accounts for the difference, if there is one.   Maybe the feelings of positivity and joy usually associated with being near a loved one change a person’s biochemistry?  Who knows.  Without any evidence, these are just guesses.

Mother-Daughter Side-By-Side Therapeutic Massage

Mother-Daughter Side-By-Side Therapeutic Massage

First, a study must be conducted to ascertain if such a correlation exists between greater gains from a session of Side-By-Side Couples Therapeutic Massage than traditional massage sessions. Of course, we must also be prepared for data that suggests just the opposite, that Therapeutic Massage provided alone is best.

More than likely, such a study will not happen any time soon.  But then again, such an  assumption may be premature.  Ten years ago, most Massage Therapists would not have thought that most of the studies involving Therapeutic Massage that now exist would ever have been conducted.  So considering that fact, we may know a lot more about Massage Therapy before very long.

Interest is growing in alternative healing modalities, as well as about integrating them into the Health Care setting.  Therapeutic Massage is  among the most promising of possible topics for future research.   This is so because thus  far, many  studies have yielded positive results, ranging from observable positive  chemical changes in an individual’s blood and brain chemistry, to positive observable changes in blood pressure, cognition, emotion, and a lot more.   It almost seems overwhelming!

 

Therapeutic Massage should be Evidence-Based.  That isn’t to suggest that for thousands of years, practitioners of Therapeutic Massage were not helping those who sought  treatment.  It’s just that any/all  evidence has been anecdotal until fairly recently, passed down through tradition, word-of-mouth, drawings and diagrams, and many detailed texts.

Couples Massage. Image by Collin Parker.

Couples Massage. Image by Collin Parker.

Still, Western Medicine  demands a higher standard of proof for claims.  Finally, as study after study shows promising results for Massage Therapy and healing, we  are arriving at such a place.  Will we one day find out that Couples Massage is more effective, and Massage is a wonderful gift of healing that is best sharing with someone you love, in order to make the most gains?

Possibly.

Until that time, however, I will rely on anecdotal evidence and intuition  and consider that the answer has  a good possibility of being affirmative as to  whether Couples Massage benefits clients more than customary massage sessions conducted without their loved one beside them.  And I think many clients and Massage Therapists would agree.

Even so, we could all be incorrect.  Sure; that’s always a possibility. However, in this case it seems less than equally likely.   Of course, in the interest of remaining objective, we must conclude with a sigh, resigned to knowing that, at this point in time,  we just don’t know.  And of course, if such a study is ever conducted, at most we will likely only discover a propensity, or a trend, either positive or negative, regarding Couples Massage and greater measurable benefits.

Couple's Massage, Side By Side At Foundry Park Inn.

Couple’s Massage, Side By Side At Foundry Park Inn.

After all, some clients may prefer solitude; moments of  quiet and aloneness are healing, also.  And just because a person benefits more from Couples Massage one time, it does not necessarily follow that at all future times, such a session would be most beneficial.  In the end, no matter what we learn through any sort of study, it is best to remember that every client  is an individual with unique qualities and needs, and must be respected as such.

(C) 2015 H Miller, NJmassage.info

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At-Home Massage In Wintertime: Appreciating The Bitter Cold, Finally

While 2015 may not be the year of (Disney) “Frozen,” it’s certainly shaping up to be a freezing winter, nevertheless.  We have phrases like “bitterly cold.”  “Harsh”, “bleak”, “biting”, and “severe” are also common descriptive terms for wintertime.  And this year, with temperatures today at under ten degrees in Hudson County, we are definitely on track to having another “severe and bleak” winter.

No one appreciates the cold.  Well, practically no one.  Those Polar Bear Club members who bathe in the January waters likely just adore  the cold, each of them having enough appreciation for one hundred of us “usual” winter-hating people.   Most of us shiver in the cold, and most of the time, the winter is a cold season.  It all makes too much sense.

That’s also why people don’t move from New Jersey to Maine or Canada.  Notice the trend in friends and family who have relocated?  It’s always to warmer spots.  The reasoning and feelings behind this aren’t even worth discussing, they’re so obvious!  But lately, I’ve begun to realize that the winter does hold some amazing potential.

Couples massage at home Right now, as I look out my window, it is literally snowing.  It’s 8:30, Friday morning, January 9thbof the new year, 2015.  Last night, we did a couple’s massage session in Bayonne.  The apartment was probably like 85 degrees, but we didn’t care, because outside, it was only 8 degrees yesterday.

Readers may be wondering why the emphasis on cold weather as of late. (The last article was also about the winter!)   Honestly, it began with friends and family back for the holidays.  This year, unlike others, I quietly questioned the wisdom of moving so far away from everyone who cares about them.  And I began to realize that the frigid cold, the bane of the Northeast, has its many charms.

Those same people from last night used a delivery service to get their groceries from Stop N Shop.  And why not?  Why even entertain leaving home when it’s single-digits-cold outside?   What is even the point?  Having an at-home massage on a day as cold as it was yesterday really makes people love the cold.

Looking out the window as I worked on my client onto the dark, inky night, the trees were motionless; the wind was almost still.  And it was still cold.  At least by our standards.  I’m sure that people in Canada and the Midwest know a thing or two about what a really cold day is like.  I mean, our cars started.  There were no blackouts.  No supermarkets caved in from ice on the roof!  In reality, our winters are mild compared to what some North Americans (and denizens of other continents) experience every year like clockwork.

The colder it gets, the more clients seem to appreciate being indoors, at home.  Some work from home and never have to venture out into the cold.  Others are not so fortunate, and after braving the icy winds both at 7 AM and 5 PM, they’re just not in the mood to do it all again, in the name of “relaxation”, no less.  Most seem to think going out into “this” is as far from relaxation as they can get.

It isn’t the winter we New Jerseyans and NYCers despise: It’s being out IN the winter weather.  I’ll admit, walking to and from the Mall on a really brisk day can be invigorating – but then I’m only outside for a minute each time.  I like feeling cold for a minute or two and then basking in the warm, red radiance of the heaters at the entrance to the stores I set out to shop at.  We don’t hate winter; we want to control it, to experience it on our terms.

Couples massage at home in NJ

I’ve often wondered why people settled in such arid lands.  Maybe they arrived in Summertime, and loved it so much, by the time winter arrived, they were hooked on the place?  I really don’t know.  But I have begun to appreciate the extremes of weather here.  Seriously, 70 degrees and sunny every day of the year must be monotony, no?  The cycle of the yearly seasons are great.  The colder months are best for chilling at home, and having everything ordered in, from Couples Massage to groceries and restaurant meals.

Couples massage in winter The snow is already slowing down.  While I hate to think of the mess on the roads later, and how getting around will certainly be that much more difficult, I also wistfully hoped that the snowflakes would keep on coming, heavier and heavier, until we were blanketed in near-blizzard conditions.  Of course, like everyone in this area, I also wished for all that snow to melt by tomorrow.  And like most people I meet in my daily life in this part of the world, we like our snow in drifts, falling like clumps, but from behind a thick pane of glass, sipping hot cocoa and enjoying the ease of wearing shorts and a sports top in five degree weather.   : )

©Copyright 2015 H Miller

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Dealing With The Bleak Coldness of Winter: Couples Massage By The Fireplace Is The Answer

As many former New Yorkers and New Jerseyans (now Floridians, Nevadans, and Arizonians) have told me, the winters here are just unbearable.  And truthfully, I didn’t need them to tell me.  I live here.  And unlike those one-way-migrating buddies, I am staying, and not just here one hour off a plane from a warm, sunny clime for the holidays, like some other people.

Snowy New Jersey Turnpike

 

 

Many friends have considered moving back, because really, where in the world can you live that’s like New Jersey or New York City?  New Jersey has the Shore, many malls, proximity to NYC, and many affordable homes in quaint towns.  So really, after a few years of living away, many people want to return.

Some  were unfortunate enough to have been here for Christmas a few years ago and ended up missing their return flight, snowed in by a small avalanche at their Basking Ridge relatives’ home.  That kind of made the decision easier.  A non-decision, even.  What’s to decide, really?

You can’t argue with a twenty foot mound of snow and ice.   Or Newark Airport, telling you to stay put and rest easy where you are, because that return flight just isn’t leaving anytime soon.  That kind of ruined  it for them; the idea of moving back has been rendered in their minds as utter insanity.

Massage at home

Keeping warm in front of the fire

But  we’re still here.  And we’re not moving.  Our ‘fair-weather friends’ (that is possibly  going a bit too far, but still sounded funny and didn’t hurt anyone!)  have returned to their idyllic paradises by the warm blue sea, or down in the South-west in a cactus-laden desert, far, far away from any sign anything that is from New Jersey or New York.

 

Except other former-New Yorkers and former NJers who have also escaped the cold, emigrating to new places to take on  on new careers, learn a new local dialect, and best of all, to never have  to shovel a walk again. (Until they visit their parents’ house on Staten Island, that is!)

 

We, the intrepid Northeasterners, who may truly shiver at the thought of more frost and snow, yet bear the burden dutifully each workday, holiday, and weekend that the fickle Winter weather decides to dump a few inches of ice or snow upon our heads, are not moving.   Whether we like the cold and snowy times or not, we deal with such realities.

 

 

As a Massage Therapist who sometimes does Couples Massage, I have witnessed one extremely effective way many couples have found to beat the cold.   Having a session of side-by-side Therapeutic massage right beside a roaring fire, replete with crackling log and the scent of the hearth, or even a demure gas-fired fireplace that may be less showy but just as warm, is something many couples have requested.

And when I walk into a home as one of the two therapists for Couples Massage, if I’m not asked to set up near the fireplace, and I see one at the home, I will ask if the couple would prefer for us to set up right by the fire, safe enough to work around the table, but near enough to feel the radiant heat of the brickwork.  I have never had a client suggest not to go ahead and do this.  And afterwards, we’re usually thanked for helping them to discover just how cool their space actually is!

 

During this time of year, it’s essential that the Massage Therapist warm up the oil that they’re going to use.  There’s nothing more dramatic in puncturing visions of warmth and cozy relaxation than the feeling of a Massage Therapist’s fingers spreading near-freezing oil on tour back.

And truly, that’s whether the session is near a fireplace, as far from your fireplace as is possible, or even if no one on your street has a fireplace.  Cold oil is a winter no-no.

The wintertimCouples massage at home in NJ e feels bleak, and is often depressingly barren and grey, in terms of most local landscapes.  The key is to stay warm!  If you have a fireplace, spend more time near it reading, playing with your laptop, doing yoga, or just enjoying the presence of your significant other.

Couples Massage is always a great means of dispelling the bleak feelings winter brings, if for no other reason than because being near someone you love can really brighten your day.  Relaxing together is a special time.

So if you have a fireplace, you now have another use for the surrounding space that you likely have never, ever thought of.  Couples Massage may be performed on either portable tables, or Shiatsu mats.  Personally, I feel that the Shiatsu mats are a bet

Couples massage in NJ

Couples massage by the warm fire

ter choice, because then the client is lying right on the floor, which is going to be quite warm, right in front of the fire.

It’s all about bringing the warmth to your winter.  Don’t let those hot-spot transplants tell us that New Jersey is ‘too cold’!  The colder it is outside, the more couples can  appreciate steamy hot chocolate, glowing fireplaces, and one another’s  warmth and closeness.

© Copyright 2015 H Miller

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Massage Gift Certificates: Let Relatives Know It’s What You Really Want!

This time of year, we’re all trying to find the perfect gift for everyone else.  And of course, our loved ones are trying to do the same for one another, and for us as well.  It’s truly a great tradition to give graciously to one another, however, finding a gift that fits is the challenge.

Massage Therapy

Massage Gift Certificates are a thoughtful gift

So many times, I’ve written about how Massage Gift Certificates are a great way to show others that you care.  But just this morning, I realized that rather than only trying to spread the gift of healing to others, it would also be a great idea to let others know you love massages, and would appreciate that sort of a gift.  Hint.  Hint. Lol

If your family or friends like making Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or Kwanza lists, seriously consider adding Massage Gift Certificates as a starred-item.  Too often, we get gifts for others that may be universally appealing, and that they really like, but would have been the perfect gift for you as well.

Or, we get gifts that would be most appropriate for ourselves.  Receiving such a  gift, you  wonder why you’ve received a Winnie-The-Pooh jogging pants set, Winnie The Pooh laptop case, and Winnie The Pooh Pen.  Of course!  The gift-giver just loves Winnie The pooh.   It all makes sense now.

But did you also err in this way?  Was your gift-giving lacking the consideration of what someone else might prefer, enjoy, make use of, or just wish to have?  That same Pooh-Bear lover received a pair of Avia sneakers from you.  Sneakers are a great gift.  Who doesn’t want a shiny new pair of kicks?  That’s all well and good, but oddly, this Winnie The Pooh girl only wears Prada or slippers.  Awkward.

So what’s to be done?  Ask others what they like.  Let them know  what you like.  Talk with them.  Think about what you know they enjoy and what brings them happiness.  And remember, if you want a massage for Christmas, you have to let others know.

 

Don’t feel disappointed that none of your Hanukkah gifts included a Massage Gift Certificate.  Was your husband supposed to be a mind reader, too?  Communication and thoughtfulness go far in helping us to give gifts that others will love.  If you do

n’t like lists, then just keep it casual, but do discuss.  W

ithout a hint or two, it may be nearly impossible for others to get you any gifts that you’ll enjoy.

Massage at home gift certificates

Give the gift of massage

And in no way does this spoil the joy of receiving a great gift!  Think of kids getting gifts from Santa.  Kids make lists, go tell Santa Caus at the Mall what they want, and hope and pray they’ve been good enough to deserve all those toys.  Knowing ahead of time that what gifts they want  makes it no less amazing when they  receive those gifts.

We exist as spiritual beings in a material world.  Anything that helps bring brightness to one another is amazing.  Gift-giving, when done with kindness and thoughtfulness, is a great way of letting someone know that you appreciate them.  Remember that the process can be facilitated by asking questions, thinking of what you know about your loved one, co-worker, or friend, and being a little bit creative.

You may find, after a little bit of talking, that neither of you want any more leather belts or coffee mugs, and both of you would rather have the Seinfeld box set of Season 1.  Now that’s specific.  If you really don’t know what the other person wants, Therapeutic Massage is a great general sort of gift that is appropriate for nearly everyone.  Gifts that bring healing, peace, calmness, and don’t require much work on the part of the recipient, are definitely always a hit.  But still, ask if you can.

(C) Copyright 2014 H Miller

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Friday Absenteeism In the Workplace: Office Chair Massage As A Cost-Effective and Trouble- Free Remedy

The cycle of the week is daunting.  But as a Manager or company owner, your concern is productivity, and keeping your workers going is of paramount importance.

In the United States, and likely in many other places, the workweek drains and drags on, causing many companies to experience a higher-than-average level of absenteeism on Fridays.  Some companies have attempted to address this by making Friday a “work-lite” day where playing with your I-phone is the norm; others have decided to make Fridays “casual” days, loosening the restrictions on what it’s appropriate to wear, sometimes being so lax  as to include pajamas and workout attire!

Sometimes a company will have an extremely strict policy of no absenteeism on Mondays without a doctor’s note.  In other companies, the culture is that taking off on a Monday is just something one doesn’t do.

Of course, if a worker is so unwell that frequent trips to the bathroom are in order to deal with nausea, Management will always let the person leave.  At many companies, this is actually a fair representation of how it works.  No one breaks the taboo and nearly everyone returns to work on Monday.
Massage in the office
Thank about it: A week of 9-5, commuting, late meetings, plus a social life, and often a family to spend time with, followed by a Friday night staying up late, getting up early the next day for more fun, saying up late again on Saturday night, and either sleeping in on Sunday or getting up early for religious services, and then spending the rest of the day cleaning, or doing at-home tasks.

By Monday, everyone is wiped out because they didn’t replenish themselves on the weekend!  Everyone at the office is always so envious of the guy who takes off for Puerto Rico on Friday and manages to walk in on Monday morning with a tan, and a smile letting us know he knows no stress.

So we then have Tuesday as another big day for workers to play hooky.  They grind through Monday with substantial amounts of coffee, and then call out sick the next day. Or use vacation time.

Really, the issue here is helping your workers to plan better.  Having a full, vibrant life means planning time for both activities and rest.  Nowadays, we all walk around in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation.  That can’t be at all a good thing.

The idea was to make Fridays a day that everyone will appreciate.  Same for Tuesdays.  Luncheons, company sports, and even outings to restaurants definitely help bring staff members to the office, even on the dreaded Friday or Tuesday.

Chair Massage is also amazingly effective.  Some people will  still take the day off and forego the trip to Houlihan’s or Carrabba’s  with the full work gang, because they’d much rather go out to a quaint little family-owned place with their significant other that afternoon, who offered to pay anyway.  In contrast,  Office Chair Massage is something that nearly everyone looks forward to, and no one wants to miss!

And because this is the case, and because it’s your job to keep productivity high and absenteeism low, you may use this to your company’s advantage, and to your employees’ advantage as well.  Some companies begin by having chair massage on Tuesdays or Fridays, announcing the event with much fanfare, and then after the staff has developed a great appreciation for chair massage, randomize the chair massage each week.  This isn’t any sort of dirty trick; they’re supposed to be coming into work to start with!

In any event, it works.  The perception of the workplace as a place of stress diminishes, and in its place your staff will begin to see the office as a place where they can relax, feel creative, think without overload, and feel their best.  And that’s even in the midst of ridiculous amounts of work and activity!

Crazy Deadlines And Office Massage Work Well Together

Crazy Deadlines And Office Massage Work Well Together

Research the topic and learn more by clicking hereCorporate Chair Massage has been proven to help improve  a number of measurable work-related metrics, including absenteeism, morale levels, productivity, and can even help with tension and stress-related high blood pressure.  This is all really about changing the face of the workplace.
Our austere American predecessors brought us all this, and we should be grateful, but note that when they posed for group photos at their jobs, there is never even a single man or woman smiling.  Let’s not carry forward their work ethic that work must be  un-fun and tedious, but rather bring the idea of work into the twenty-first century; make your office a place where people can be productive, where creativity and careful analysis work better because your staff is calm and focused, as opposed to driven and stressed.

(C) Copyright 2014 H Miller, Mountainside On Site Massage  Therapy

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Girls Spa Parties and Bullying: Changing Negative Patterns Among Kids’ Interactions

Most of us have some connection to the topic of bullying.  Some of us were bullied, others have had family members or friends who suffered the same sad fate.  I certainly was not a bully (actually, I was bullied in one primary school grade by a much older child), but I’m sure some of our readers are reformed bullies, or at least we can hope.

At a Kids Spa Party, kids should have fun. But sometimes  bullying occurs, and then the fun quickly ends.  Children are freer to interact at a birthday party than in school; girls cannot raise their hands to say that another girl is bothering her.  Of course, with parents, and Spa Party Therapists ever present, someone usually ends up taking a proactive approach to helping the situation.

Regardless  whether in school or at home, bullying still happens.  Even with our best efforts, sadly, this cruel social phenomenon continues.  Why are some girls driven to bully?  What makes other girls perennial targets of any passing bully?  How can these patterns of ‘meanness’ and passivity, respectively, be altered?  These are all important questions that must be addressed if we are to arrive at any viable solutions.

Parents differ in approach,  but when their own kids or guests begin bullying at Kids Spa Parties, almost every parent we’ve met has said or done SOMEthing.  Some parents can be harsh.  Others can be more reflective, trying to get the kids to think about their bullying behavior.

We have intervened as well a number of times.  I think helping the bullying girl to see that her target is a person with feelings, by treating the girl being bullied with respect, while treating the bully with equal respect, has aided all parties involved.

But no matter what the approach or personal style, it’s important that adults DO SOMETHING, rather than permit bullying behavior to continue, unchecked.

Bullying is a grave danger; children can, and have, committed suicide because they were incessantly bullied.  A quick search of Google will bring tears to your eyes.  We’ve witnessed firsthand how some girls can bully others, and have seen and felt how much it hurts.

Bullying hurts

Bullying hurts, no matter where it's happening.

In  the supportive and accepting environment that we foster, where everyone gets a turn, everyone gets a cool nail design, everyone gets to participate, and every participant is treated with respect, the dynamic of the kids’ interactions changes…at least for a short while.

Every child walks away from our Spa Parties feeling better about themselves than when they arrived.  This is not accomplished by any complex means.  Every guest participates, and in the process, is  treated as an equal to everyone else present.

This is probably why so many bullied girls like the structured environment of class time at school, because everyone gets a turn, and bullies cannot dominate and say hurtful things in the classroom, where discussion is moderated by the teacher,  like they can when kids are unsupervised and can speak freely to one another.

We treat every kid with kindness and personal respect; seeing this, they emulate the behavior.  Children are continuously learning; providing a good example to follow seems essential.  There are many amazing parents out there whom we’ve learned from, watching how they handle the situation of bullying in many different ways.

When the target of a bully gets a great nail design (I painted it; not to be self aggrandizing,  but I’ve done some pretty nice nail art!) and a  bully begins chiding another girl, saying  that her  mani came out terrible, kids and Moms nearly ALWAYS counter this, and with great gusto.

I also counter these barbs, but I choose to do so gently.  Honestly, not every mani has come out perfectly, some being quite far from any benchmark of greatness!  But when my artwork is good, it’s good.  If a young critic has a valid point, I’m always willing to listen and learn.   Kids can be really honest, but a bully might make such a claim when it is clearly not true.

Some truly Fab Tween Nail Art has been called lousy by bullying girls!  While everyone has their own opinion, it was clear that this was about the girl and not the artwork, when the topic quickly changed to how gross the bully thought the bullied girl’s clothes looked.

The curious reaction is that of the bully.  Usually, the girl doing all of the bullying will seem deflated, even hurt that any attention from the other kids is going to the target.  It isn’t being told to stop bullying, usually; it’s seeing her victim receive positive attention from others.

Why would this be?  It seems a curious phenomenon.  I do not know; if you thought an answer was forthcoming in these paragraphs, I must admit, it is not.

My best guess is that many forms of bullying have some component that is about the bully wishing to have her peers view the target as she does: through a distorted lens that the bully created, maybe out of jealousy,   maybe something entirely unrelated.

Maybe her Mom or Aunt or neighbor made a comment (that was overheard) about girls with a texture and color of hair that is different than their own; xenophobia does exist.  But racism is not at the heart of all (or probably, most)  bullying; we know this because bullying happens even within families.

It seems more important that the issue be dealt with, rather than attempting to force a blanket definition for a phenomenon that is so pervasive that it must necessarily spring from various causes.

No matter what the cause, this is one behavior that is definitely NOT cool, and the sooner bullies begin realizing this, the safer our kids will all be.   But we can’t wait for bullies to come around and figure it out on their own.  Nor can we hope that they’ll begin listening, and leave their victims alone.  They may get it; they may not.  What really needs to be done is to help the victims to stop being victimized.

We encourage parents to consider that their bullied children should be taught about how NOT to be a victim.  The ‘victim mentality’ is what must change.  Adult intervention is key.

Whether from parents, a teacher, the school lunch aide, or any other person working with children in a position to positively affect change, feedback and education will alter the course of these patterns.  Even classmates or kids on the block are in a position to help, that is, if they themselves have been properly educated regarding the topic of bullying.

Girls need to learn how NOT to become victims of bullying.  Bullies must come to understand that bullying is a detestable behavior that we will not accept.  Assertiveness is important, and feeling self-worth  as well, in preparing our kids to keep bullies at bay.  Bullies gain satisfaction hurting those who are easily hurt.

By helping girls to learn how to become more assertive, as well as understanding their own unique, individual worth, bullies will have a scarcer  choice of targets to assail with their inconsiderate (and possibly even deadly) behavior.

We have to be realistic: What does a bully aim to do?  Consciously or otherwise, bullying behavior seeks to cut off a child from her peers, make her feel a lousy sense of self, and seeks to make the victim feel totally dominated by another person.

I know there are many who feel that ‘kids should fend for themselves’, but when we honestly appraise what the end results would be, if bullies were allowed to do their damage without restraint, we see that bullies aim to destroy their targets, and sometimes they succeed.  As caring, compassionate adults, whether parents or not, we just cannot allow that to happen.

In a future article we plan to publish in the near future, we shall discuss specific strategies parents or teachers  may employ, as suggested by well-known experts in developmental psychology, as well as other reliable sources.

Two books that we shall review are Bully: It’s Time to Take a Stand, An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents, and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis, edited by Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen, and Dina Santorelli, as well as Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in The Early Grades, by Michelle Anthony, PH.D., and Reyna Lindert, PH.D.

© Copyright 2014 H Miller, NJMassage.Info

Posted in Child Health, Kids Spa Parties, Personal Growth, Stopping Kids Bullying, Therapeutic Massage and Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Couples Massage as a Unique Bonding Experience: Relaxing and Healing Together Breaks Boring Routines

Couples have held hands throughout the entire session.  That is really cute.  Do couples tend to do so more in wintertime?  I’m not really sure, but I think it may be so!  So many of our clients have told us that they are accustomed to mostly habitual living within the confines of their space, and that Couples Massage At Home helps break that boring cycle of mindless repetition.

couples winter wonderland Accidental Tourist Flickr

winter couples massage after a walk in the snow

Having a patterned, well-defined life is one thing; falling into a daily routine that is rote and unexciting is another.  Surely, using your private space for meditation, prayer, yoga, or chi kung, can help transform that space, even when you’re engaging in other  activities.  Massage Therapy is a great way to reacquaint yourself and your loved one with one another, yourselves, and your living space.

After a session of Couples Massage Therapy, you may wish to preserve that ‘vibe’ of healing and calmness.  For many of our clients, home is already a special place; many have spent a great deal of attention on creating a living space that precisely suits their aesthetic tastes.  But what goes on within the walls of that home can determine how its occupants feel about living there.

Some may argue that an uneventful life is a good life, but if every day blends into every other, that may not be so good, either.  Boring routines aren’t deliberate.  They develop over time.  Hatha yoga, Couples Massage, or even side-by-side meditation are great ways to reintroduce yourselves to your lives, and the space your lives take place within.  Living a more deliberate life is the goal, where you appreciate yourself, your loved one, what you share, as well as your surroundings.

Every day is different; every moment is unique.  Keeping this in mind, how do we ever get bored?  It’s all about developing mindless routine, as oppose to carefully planned patterns.  Living by habit is an unconscious way of plodding through life.  As the stresses of life rachet up the level of internal tension, many people retreat to the comfort and sameness of a life of mindless habit.  But routine is not inspiring; it does not encourage living each moment to its fullest special capacity.

Engaging in uplifting activities together within your shared space is a game changer.  Couples Massage, chi kung, meditation, and yoga are but a few.  There are many choices, though the inclusion of At Home Couples Massage is always a great choice, and not just because we are Massage Therapists providing such a service! Couples Massage requires no learning, as does meditation or yoga, and is a great place for you and your loved one to get started on your journey to finding the extraordinary in the otherwise routine.

(C) Copyright 2014 H Miller, NJMassage.Info, Mountainside On Site Massage Therapy

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Post-natal Massage: Helping to Restore Your Flatter Tummy

Most women who have had their first child are very disappointed at the (lack of)  speed with which their stomach returns to ‘normal’.  In a normal situation, the stomach starts to flatten  after a couple of weeks, and becomes practically normal in a few months or more.  Without certain interventions, however, most women’s tummies will never return completely to  their pre-pregnancy appearance.

pregnant belly by Photos by Lina flickr 2

Help for restoring your tummy with post natal massage

The interventions that I am mentioning specifically relate to reconditioning of the rectus abdominis muscle so that it rejoins.  Most people  are not aware that the main muscle in the center of the stomach, the rectus abdominis, actually splits in half during pregnancy, right down the middle.

If the rectus abdominis did not split in half, it would become stretched and distended, thus rendering it non-functional after the baby was born.  Instead, our intelligent bodies preserve the form of the rectus abdominis by splitting down the middle, and retaining half on either lateral side of the distending belly.

When this process  is not understood, however, there can be later problems .  For example, if a woman begins to do stomach crunches soon after the pregnancy has ended, and before the muscle has fused back together on its own, then the rectus abdominis may remain perpetually disconnected.

This means that the stomach will never achieve the look, or have the same strength,  that it had before pregnancy, since the muscle responsible for the center of the stomach’s shape will remain unjoined at its center line.  A  gap running up the middle of a woman’s  belly would be the result, which would potentially remain until the woman becomes pregnant again, has a second baby, and lets her body heal properly.  At that time, there would be another opportunity for that same muscle to either rejoin or remain with a gap once again.

In addition to the rectus abdominis muscle being split, there are several other issues to be noted when considering the desire for your flat stomach to return.  First, the uterus was greatly enlarged, and after pregnancy it’s moved out of place.  Especially with the rigors of labor, it is highly unlikely that it is in its ideal  place within your pelvic cavity.

If its proper place is not restored, then we find yet another reason why the original tummy that the woman had before pregnancy cannot be regained.  Immediately after the birth of the baby, in order to expel the placenta, a physician will apply hard and uncomfortable pressure to a woman’s stomach.  This is to prevent hemorrhage which can occur if the placenta is not expelled.  However, this is where most physicians will end their care with regard to the stomach.  Their main concern is not whether the woman’s figure is restored, but simply to prevent her from bleeding internally, which can sometimes be fatal.

This is where post-natal massage therapy can help.  In the first post-natal massage session, (which must be performed within two weeks of the birth of the baby in order to have this effect) the massage therapist will perform a special technique to restore the fundus, (or top of the uterus) to its rightful place.

After birth, it is sitting low in the pelvis, in the wrong place, and is often not in its normal shape.  Through techniques of massage, the fundus can be restored to its natural pre-pregnancy position, thus not impeding the stomach from returning to its normal shape.

There are also several techniques that the Cerntified Prenatal massage therapist will emoploy to assist the rectus abdominis muscle with returning to its normal place and shape.  Techniques such as friction and Swedish Massage will be employed to help reduce the stretch marks that almost certainly occur after pregnancy without intervention, and which often become permanent.

There are, in fact,  many pre- and post-birth and continuing treatments which women can use to prevent stretch marks from forming on their belly.  Some are more effective than others, but one has merely to visit the pregnancy section of any health food store, Whole Foods Market, or online stores featuring natural products to find them.

Some are called pregnancy belly balm, pregnancy salve, or stretch mark reducer, and all have similar effects.  They maintain healthy tissue in the area of the stomach, and can help to create a great reduction in the appearance and severity of stretch marks.  In addition, having a number of pre-natal massages can also help to recondition the skin of the stomach so that stretch marks are less likely or less severe.

As stated, some are more effective than others, and a discussion of these products is beyond the scope of this article.  However, if stretch marks do occur, massage therapy can help to reduce their appearance and recondition the skin to appear and feel  much healthier than it was just after the pregnancy.

All in all, it is to the benefit of any post-partum woman to explore the options related to post-natal massage.  Most of the benefits discussed above, with the exception of re-positioning the fundus, require more than one treatment to truly see effects.  Sometimes the massage therapy treatments need to be continued for a month or more at regular intervals to see strong benefits, but if restoring your tummy to its pre-pregnancy look and feel is important to you, you may find that it is worthwhile to spend the time to have an experienced Certified post-natal massage therapist assist you with this.

And while this article reports only on the tummy-restoring-benefit aspect of post-natal massage therapy, there are a myriad of other beneficial effects  that this type of massage has on the new mother as well.  Prior blogs, located here, as well as our post-natal massage therapy page, located here, are excellent resources for information on some of the other benefits of post-natal massage therapy.

©Copyright 2014 H Miller, NJMassage.info

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

Massage Therapist as First-Line Health Advocate: Trained in Observing Signs of Pathology, Therapists Notice And Report Health Issues Before Anyone

Massage Therapists, whether employed in a spa setting, or working with a mobile company like ours, are an invaluable part of your health care team.  Chances are, if you are a regular massage therapy client, you see the massage therapist more than your doctor.  And of course, that’s a good thing, indicative of even better things!  As a result, your Massage Therapist may be the first health care professional to observe and report to you that something might be of issue.

Of course, a Massage Therapist is not a doctor, and isn’t qualified to make diagnoses.  If your therapist is doing this, it might be a good idea to start looking now for someone new, and quickly.  Massage Therapist training includes a lengthy module on Pathology. This includes identifying all sorts of skin issues, from tinea to melanoma.  And that’s important, because a massage therapist, working on a client’s  back every two weeks, can easily be the only one in that person’s  life in a position to notice changes in a mole on a client’s back.

Unless you are a doctor, nurse, or any other highly specialized health care professional, chances are, your massage therapist has more training in identifying skin and body issues by observation than you do.  While diagnosing is definitely not something any Massage Therapist should be doing,  bringing a client’s attention to an issue that a therapist may consider worthy of more attention, or outright suggesting that the client see a doctor certainly is.

Massage Therapists are not trying to overstep their bounds or delve into the field of medicine when they make such suggestions regarding their visual, or tactile, observations.  In fact, during schooling, Massage Therapists are instructed to be vocal about anything that they feel, based on their observation and training, may be a cause for concern.  If you feel that this is inappropriate, that is your right, however, consider that the Massage Therapist was only doing what she was taught in school.

Reporting potential health issues to the client is something therapists should be doing, no matter where the massage session is conducted, whether it’s at home massage or corporate chair massage, whether it’s a fifteen minute session or ninety.  Of course, a Massage Therapist should be discreet about talking with a client, if there are others present.  Not only is this good manners, but it is the law.  As such information pertains to a person’s health, it is protected, and private.

In summary, it is fair to say that this is an aspect of Massage Therapy service that most people don’t consider at all, even though it is a valuable extra.  Having the training to recognize anything from boils to blastomas is certainly worth something to someone.  Probably, in the course of most Massage Therapists’ careers, each has reported to a client at least once.  This should be viewed as being dedicated to protocol, and not any attempt to overstep boundaries.

(C) Copyright 2014 H Miller, Mountainside On Site Massage Therapy

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