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

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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

(C) Copyright 2015 H Miller, NJMassage.Info

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Couples Massage At Home Before Hosting a Dinner Party: The Well-Kept Secret To Social Success Of NJ Socialites

Joan Nova Dinner PartyOf course, Couples Massage At Home is always a great choice, but here’s a new thought: A relaxing side-by-side Couples Massage only hours prior to hosting a gala dinner event, one when you bring out the ‘good silver’, not just the ordinary sterling.

Usually, such a notion wouldn’t even cross the minds of most party hosts.  Of course, many couples opt to include on site Chair Massage as part of the ambiance for the guests, but often, then refrain from having massages, themselves.

Couples Massage on the day of a big party is usually not recommended.  This is an idea for Ann Larie Valentine Taylor's Dinner Partythe super-organized, the types of couples that have their lives so ordered and are so on-point, that they could easily pull this off without much work.

They’re the ones who have the party already set up three days in advance, and on the day of the party, only have to arrange things with a mere few phone calls.  They’re the ones already sipping Martinis when the guests arrive.

Taylor's-Dinner-Party-Table-Settings-by- Ann Larie ValentineYou know, those friends who are super-relaxed already, and probably need a massage less than any of their guests.  If that describes you and your significant other, then why not consider a Couples Massage at your house, only hours before the big evening?

For you, it’s really just nothing at all.  In fact, you’re probably going to have to miss shopping that day, or working on your book.  Everyone  know your  type: The highly industrious, laser- pinpoint focused Couples that we’re all glad to know and be loved by.  You’re the ones who come through for everyone else.

Now about everyone else, where were we?  Yes; all the other couples in attendance, whenSainsbury's FreeFrom Dinner Party By 1000HEads they had hosted their own gala soirees, were looking ready for the Caribbean when the guests arrived at the door.  Yelling, cursing, damning that bakery on Staten Island for losing the order and not having the pes ready; hitting the counter because the deli in Hoboken messed up the cold platters.

If you remember, laughingly, anything like this happening at one of your parties, then Couples Massage at home is ESPECIALLY for you.  Let me explain.  While it is much more difficult for you to arrange to have the time in your lives for a massage on the day it’s your turn to entertain, that’s precisely why you require it most.

Maybe this means there’s a real call for examination of habits and beliefs.  Maybe dinner parties are supposed to be fun to host, not a day and week to dread and stress over.  It’s obvious that most couples are so far from having everything ready the day of such a dinner party, that such people are probably reading and clucking how I’m being terribly unrealistic.

But that’s precisely my point!  Maybe look again, and realize that you should plan to have your dinner parry arrangements in place THREE full days before the dinner.  Trust me; you won’t regret doing this.  Invariably, all three days will be spend concerning arrangements, no mater how much you try.

But when the fourth day rolls around, finally, there should be so few loose ends that you and your spouse could literally nap before your guests arrive.  Waiting ‘til the last minute is only inviting sure trouble; if there are issues with anything, alternative arrangements may be sought.  But only if there is ample time!

Having the luxury of a Couples Massage at home on the day you’re hosting an important Teresa Robinson Right Brain Planning {elements}social event is not beyond anyone’s grasp.  With most couples, this will require a good amount of work.  But remember, it’s the same work you did before all your other dinner parties, only done over the course of two week and not in the two days before the party.

Pretend the deadline is three days prior, start planning and getting everything in order as soon as you know you’re hosting, and all will be fine. You can have the Massage Therapists stay and then provide chair massage for the guests.  And at the door, guests will be shocked, questions will be asked, suspicious of plastic surgery will be raised.

And it’s your choice: You can tell them about how Couples Massage at home before a party helped you to be so calm, or you can keep that little secret that I’;m letting you in on, that Sweet-Martini-by-Jonathan-Cohenso many of New Jersey’s socialites already practice, and would rather wish to keep hush-hush, their little secret to social dinner hosting success, time after time.

The real secret is, don’t procrastinate.  And use every moment you have free to help yourself, and your family,  live a better life.  That’s why you socialize, after all. Having wonderful, rich, life- affirming  experiences with your loved ones and friends.  And if you’re out to impress, and that’s your thing, what impresses more than a cool and collected couple hosting a gala event?

(C) Copyright H Miller, NJMassage.Info

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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

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

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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