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Posts Tagged "#massage"

The right amount of sleep is necessary for maintaining a healthy, functioning body. However, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep issues that affect their health, which often leads to low work performance, slowed reaction time, obesity, higher risk of longtime disease, and substance abuse.

According to certain studies, massage therapy has found to be beneficial for:

  • Insomnia-related stress
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Myofasical pain syndrome
  • Sports injuries

Massage therapy can reduce fatigue and improve a person’s sleep. Massage has also been shown to improve sleep in infants, children, adults, and the elderly alike, as well as individuals with fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, lower back pain, cerebral palsy, and breast disease.

Good facts to know:

The “Body Clock”

Many people report that they fall asleep easily, but wake up at the same time in the middle of the night. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially is you can’t fall back asleep and wake up tired the next day. The concept of the “Organ Clock” in Chinese medicine is a useful tool in understanding why this occurs. In Chinese medicine, energy or qi, moves through the body’s meridians and organs in a 24 hour cycle. Every two hours, the qi (or energy) is strongest within a particular organ and its functions within the body. The body, mind and emotions are inseparable in Chinese medicine- meaning that if you have disharmony in your physical body, it is tied to your emotional state. So if you wake up at 3 AM, when Liver energy peaks, you may be suffering from Liver Qi stagnation, which could be related to an unhealthy diet- excess alcohol consumption, unresolved anger or high levels of stress. If you consistently wake up at 4 AM, it could be due to an imbalance in your lungs, which is related to grief and sadness, fatigue, and reduced immune function.

The most important time to sleep!

Many people are night owls and think nothing of it, especially if you get a decent amount of sleep each night. However, according to Chinese medicine, it’s not only how much sleep you get that matters, but also when you get it. A bedtime of 10:30pm (at the latest) is advised so that you are asleep by 11pm when the liver and gallbladder start to regulate qi, process emotions, balance hormones and detoxify the body. The window from 11pm-3am, which correlated to the liver and gallbladder, is the most important in terms of maintaining health, especially as you age.

The deepest part of sleep, or Slow Wave Sleep (SWS), is the most restorative part of our sleep. During these hours the stress hormone cortisol is reduced and parasympathetic nervous system activity increases, which allows us to fully rest and move away from the fight or flight responses that dominate during waking hours. SWS is associated with memory or learning. A lack of this type of sleep can lead to reduced daytime functioning and alertness as well as waking feeling unrefreshed. Human growth hormone, which is essential to repairing our bodies from daily injury and maintaining health, is released from 9pm-7am, making each hour of sleep during this time critical.

Check out the guidelines below to learn about why you may be waking up at a certain hour at night:

9 PM-11 PM–Triple Burner (related to the heart and pericardium) Emotion: Joy or lack of joy, depression, hopelessness. Functions: The triple burner is not a distinct organ but is related to our endocrine and lymphatic systems. It controls metabolism within the body. Symptoms of imbalance: Mania, feelings of guilt, depression, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, sluggish metabolism, frequent headaches, fatigue, earaches. Tips: Consider going to bed earlier, establish a calming nighttime routine, avoid artificial light after 9pm.

11 PM-1 AM– Gallbladder (strongly tied to the liver) Emotion: Indecisiveness Functions: The Gallbladder stores and excretes bile to facilitate proper digestion. It also rules the decision making process, controls the sinews and tendons and governs dreams. Symptoms of imbalance: Indecision, frequent sighing, rash decisions, poor judgment, difficulty making decisions, shyness, high cholesterol, resentment, dream-disturbed sleep, weak tendons. Tips: Avoid alcohol, trans fats and spicy food. Eat a smaller dinner well before bedtime and avoid snacking before bed.

1 AM-3 AM–Liver Emotion: Anger/Irritability Functions: The liver is responsible for detoxifying our bodies and processing emotions each night. Think back to a night when you had too much to drink or a period of intense frustration at work. Did you wake up between 1-3am unable to fall back asleep? From a Chinese medicine perspective your liver was overloaded with and struggled to do its work. Symptoms of imbalance: Explosive outbursts of anger, bottled up emotions, resentment, irritability, moodiness, frustration, high blood pressure, PMS, bitter taste in mouth, red face, blurred vision. Tips: Make sure to drink alcohol in moderation and eat your last meal a few hours before bed. Consider a whole foods cleanse. Cut out coffee for a week and replace it with green tea. Get regular exercise.

3 AM-5 AM– Lung Emotion: Sadness/Grief Functions: The lungs govern the respiratory and immune system, regulate the sweat glands, and moisten the skin. Symptoms of imbalance: Feelings of sadness or grief that have not been dealt with, shortness of breath, sweating easily, weak voice, fatigue, cough, headache, asthma, chest pain, dry skin. Tips: Try breathing exercises, meditation or yoga to improve your lung capacity. Consider getting counseling or talking to a friend about feeling of sadness or grief.

The different types of massages that help improve your sleep:

  • Swedish massage—This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping to help relax and energize.
  • Deep massage—This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
  • Sports massage—This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage—This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in muscles after injuries or overuse.

Fun Fact:

Human beings have an intrinsic and powerful connection to sunlight that evolved over thousands of years. Before the advent of electricity, we were bound by the constraints of daylight, and our sleep cycles followed suit. But today, electricity and technological stimulation allow our minds and bodies to be active after sundown, which can wreak havoc on our health. Many hormonal processes in our body are literally hardwired to be orchestrated by sunlight and the absence of sunlight. It is no surprise that adhering to a normal sleep pattern is therefore highly important to maintaining optimal health.

Familiarize yourself with the basic foot reflexology chart. Starting out, learn about the basic areas on a foot reflexology chart. This outlines the major organs locations on the foot.

  • The right foot is associated with the right part of the body and left foot is associated with the left side of the body. The stomach, for example, is primarily located on the left side of the body so massaging and applying pressure to the left foot can treat stomach ailments.
  • The toes and feet indicate your head and neck. Massaging your toes in foot reflexology means working your head and neck.
  • The thinnest part of your foot, usually found towards its center, is known as the waistline. Parts of your foot correlated with the stomach are found above the waistline. Parts correlated with the intestines are found below
  • The bottom of your foot is connected with your pelvic area.
  • The area just underneath your toes corresponds to the chest.

The sole chart: The sole chart is fairly easy to learn and deals only with the underside of the foot, not the tops or sides of the feet.

  • When it comes to toes, the second and third toe after your big toe are connected to the eyes. If you have eye strain, applying pressure in that area can help. Your remaining toes are connected to your teeth, your sinuses, and the top of your head.
  • Pressure points do differ on the left foot and right foot; however, there are some similarities.
  • Your ears are affected by the areas just below your toes on both feet.
  • On both feet, the lungs are found about an inch below all your toes except the big toe.
  • Your heels on both feet are connected to your legs.
  • The area just below the waistline is connected to your small intestine on both feet.

The outside chart: An outside chart displays what areas of the body correspond to the side of your foot pointing away for the body. It also covers the top of your foot.

  • The very top of your foot corresponds to your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the part of your immune system that helps filter out toxins and other wastes.
  • The area just above your toes is connected to the chest. The side of your foot above your heel is connected to the hips and knees.
  • The side of your foot just below your waistline connects to the elbow. If you move down slightly further, to the side of your foot just above your pinky toe, you’ll hit your shoulder.

The inside chart:  An inside chart addresses addresses the side of the foot facing inward towards your other foot.

  • The bottom of your foot from the tip of your big toe to your heel represents your spine. The insides of your feet are the same basic shape as your spine, with the same curves and bends.
  • Just under the waistline there should be a puffy, oval-like mound on the side of your foot. This is connected to your bladder.

Did you know?

Your hands also have a reflexology chart just like the feet do.


Consider doing spot massages for specific ailments.
 For example, pinching the area between the middle finger and the ring finger may help with eye conditions such as conjunctivitis or eyestrain. If you have allergies, they might be helped by pressing gently on the adrenal gland area.

  • You can also hold a golf ball and roll it with both hands over the areas of your hand to apply pressure.
  • If you suffer from tension or anxiety, try pinching the skin area between your thumb and your first finger.

It is inevitable for us humans to experience pain in our jaws some point in our lives. Certain exercises are known to help ease the pain, however, a certain type of massage is known to improve jaw pain in an instant. This type of massage is called the pterygoid massage. The lateral pterygoids are muscles on each side of your head that help control the temporo-mandibular joint, or TMJ. The muscles help to open your jaw and to move it from side to side. The joint is very complex, so if you are experiencing pain, make sure to see an expert.

The Pterygoid Muscle

The pterygoid is a powerful muscle of mastication. The pterygoid muscles are two of the four muscles of mastication. These muscles are: lateral pterygoid and medial pterygoid. It is involved in closing the jaw as well as protrusion of the jaw. Therefore manual release of the pterygoid muscle can benefit those both with generalized TMJ pain and discomfort as well as people with overbite.

What causes the pain?

The jaw is virtually constantly working when talking, chewing, grinding and clenching and there are estimates that it moves more than a couple of thousand times every day. Below is what causes the pain of the jaw.

  • T.M.J
  • Teeth clenched
  • Poor body position
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Reduced jaw opening
  • Clicking jaw
  • Headaches
  • Cheek tingling
  • Chronic pain and inflammation in the jaw area
  • Chewing too much gum

Trigger points

If there are trigger points present in the medial pterygoids then you will often have pain in the TMJ and also around the ear. It can also be difficult to swallow with pain referred to the back of the mouth. If you have restrictions in how far you can open your mouth then there is likelihood that you will have trigger points in this muscle, normally present on both sides of the head.

How to prevent the pain:

  • Eat soft foods
  • Avoid eating too much gum
  • Practice stress reduction and relaxation techniques
  • The use of plastic toothbrushes recommended by jaw care professionals
  • Get a pterygoid massage at Elements!

Why a pterygoid massage is important for you

Everyone knows that any type of massage is beneficial for them. If you are continuously experiencing pain in your jaw/mouth, the pterygoid massage will help to ease the pain. And, coming in for continuous sessions will result in your pain going away quicker. This massage is also beneficial for headaches. If you experience frequent headaches, this massage will help control the headaches better and decrease the frequency of them. At Elements, the pterygoid massage can be added onto any type of full body massage.

After the pterygoid massage

Any time you massage trigger points in muscle groups it is a good idea to stretch them out afterwards to enhance the relaxation of the muscle. One recommended stretch for these muscles is to open your mouth against resistance by placing your hand under your chin while you slowly open the mouth against the resistance.

As these two massage are typically the popular choices to choose from, there is quite a difference between the two. Swedish massage promotes relaxation while a deep tissue massage unknots the deeper stressed muscles. Swedish massage is executed in slow, circular movements with even pressure to enhance the circulatory system. Deep tissue massage, on the other hand, is more focused on specific parts of the body which experiences pain.

Swedish Massage

The Swedish massage is a form of massage done by long circular strokes. The Swedish massage is primarily used to induce relaxation for stressed and overly active muscles. The purpose of the Swedish massage aside from relaxation is to enhance the circulation of blood all over the body to increase the functions of the nervous system.

One of the biggest benefits of the Swedish massage is that it can boost your mood significantly. Studies have shown that massage can increase serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which all help to elevate your mood and general well-being.

The Swedish massage also helps to reduce stress and anxiety. With that being said, it can also improve your sleep. There has been a study that found that massage therapy improved the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients. Better sleep, in turn, reduces stress and anxiety levels.

Deep Tissue

Deep tissue massage is used to relieve stressed muscles, especially in the neck, arm, leg and thigh areas. This type of massage is aimed at the tissues that normal massages could not reach and the muscles that are usually stressed than the others. A hard pressure needs to be applied in order to obtain results with deep tissue massage. A deeper pressure should be expected with this massage, however, if you experience any pain, please consult your therapist.

This massage helps to break up scar tissue that forms following an injury and reduce tension in muscle and tissue. It may also promote faster healing by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.

Unlike the Swedish massage that focuses on relaxation, deep tissue massage helps to treat muscle pain and improve stiffness. But it can still help to you unwind mentally, too. Some people have reported that the deep tissues massage helps in:

*Sports injuries

*Fibromylagia

*Plantar Fasciitis

*High blood pressure

*Sciatica

*Tennis elbow

Key Differences Between Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue

*Intended use: Deep tissue massage is primarily used to treat chronic pain and muscle and sports-related injuries. Swedish massage is mainly used to promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension caused by everyday activities, such as sitting at a computer.

*Pressure: The Swedish massage is a gentler massage compared to the deep tissue, which provides firm pressure. Both types involve use of the palms and fingers to knead and manipulate your tissues, but the elbows and forearms may also be used to apply increased pressure during a deep tissue massage.

*Area of focus:  Deep tissue massage targets the inner layers of your muscles. It’s used to treat muscle and tendon injuries, pain, and stiffness in your major muscle groups and joints. Swedish massage targets the superficial layers of muscle and focuses on the parts of your body that tend to hold the most tension, such as your neck, shoulders, and back.

Overall:

Our massage therapists at Elements Salon and Wellness Spa are here to provide expert care on any concerns with your body. If you are still having a hard time deciding between the two massages, your therapist will consult with you on what the best massage is. Hopefully by reading this article, you are now an expert on Swedish and deep tissue massages!

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