Tips To Ease Neck Pain

Neck pain is common and there’s a variety of things that can cause it. You may have just slept wrong and tried to turn your head a certain way only to feel some pretty sharp pain; then you’re stuck walking around all day barely able to turn to the side. You may have been hunched over at your desk all day, or done some exercise that didn’t quite agree with you. Whatever the cause, it’s no fun. Of course, a massage session here will help, but there are some things you can do in the meantime to ease that pain.

Neck pain is frequently the result of tension within the muscles. When the muscles are tight, they bear down on blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to areas, resulting in even more pain, like those nasty tension headaches that can come along for a ride. Stretching can help loosen that tension and improve blood flow, overall decreasing your pain levels. Slowly tilt your head forward, back, and side to side, until you feel a good stretch in each position. Hold it for several seconds and breathe deep. Release and keep moving through the motions and stretching. Listen to your body and find the places where the stretch really seems to be the most effective.

Heat & Cold Therapy
Heat can help to improve blood flow and relax the muscles, while applying cold can decrease inflammation. You can use whatever feels right, but alternating between the two will often help even more. Apply your heating pad for 5 minutes, then a cold pack for 2 or 3 minutes. One round may be all you need for very mild symptoms, but if the pain is persistent, keep alternating between the two for up to 20 minutes, ending with cold to make sure any inflammation is taken care of.

You can use your fingertips, knuckles, self-massage tools like a Thera Cane, or even just a tennis or golf ball; anything that will provide direct pressure into the muscles. Start gently working throughout the neck and shoulders to warm up the tissues, and slowly work into deeper pressure as it feels right. Don’t be afraid of slight discomfort, but stop if you experience any sharp pains.

Get a different pillow
If you’re experiencing neck pain frequently, try switching up your pillow to see if it may be the cause. No one size fits all here. You need to find what works best for your body. And don’t forget that those pillows need fluffed and replaced on a regular basis to keep the proper support.

Of course, you can always come get a massage when you’ve got any sort of pain like this, but I know that’s not always possible and I still want you to feel amazing as much as you can. So, use these tips the next time your neck starts bothering you, and book your next massage to keep you feeling great too!

How Your Lower Back Pain & Hip Pain May Be Connected

The body is intricately designed with nerve endings and connective tissues that intertwine to form a beautiful structure capable of everything from minute movements, to birthing a child, to surviving in some of the harshest conditions on earth. But with these capabilities comes vulnerability, so it’s no surprise that we experience pain from time to time at the very least. What you may not realize is that sometimes the pain you feel isn’t necessarily caused by something in the area you feel it. For example, when you have an injury to your hips or pelvis, it can often cause back pain. Due to the proximity of the complex joints of the pelvis to your spine, your body can also interpret your hip/pelvis problem as back pain and your back problem as hip/pelvic pain.

The lumbar region of the spine (lower back) houses all of the nerves that supply feeling and motor control to the entire lower body; from the low back itself to the hips, knees, and down to the tips of your toes. While this area can sustain a lot of abuse, due to the immense amount of movement it is capable of and the stress that our daily lives can put on it, it is also the most susceptible to injury. Here’s a few reasons you may have this hip/back pain connection.

A pinched nerve root at the lumbar spine due to a bulging or herniated disc may result in significant sharp pain along a nerve like the sciatic nerve which runs from the middle of the low back all the way down the back and side of the leg to the foot. Sometimes this pain stops at the buttock and at other times it may shoot all the way down to the toes.

Your posture may also have an effect. This isn’t to say that you need to immediately “fix” your posture as that may not be necessary. What I’m referencing is more so when you begin to exhibit an abnormal-to-you posture, like suddenly sitting all day when you’re used to walking, or crossing your legs a lot when you haven’t before. These seemingly subtle changes may actually result in some significant shifts in the joints of the pelvis and spine, causing pain. If you haven’t had a major shift in how you sit, stand, or walk throughout your day, it may be that your posture has changed due to your pain rather than the other way around. The new posture you’ve adapted may be your body’s way of compensating for an injury or otherwise protecting itself from further damage.

While there is much to this connection between the low back and hips, far more than I can include in this single post, just know that there is an intricate balance between the many structures of this area. Depending on the real problem, you may need massage, exercise, rest, stretching, or it may be best to see your physician. To help you determine what’s really going on and how to move forward, make an appointment and let’s figure it out together so you can get back to doing what you enjoy.

5 Ways To Turn Your Halloween Party Into A Spa Party

It’s that time of year. Fall, family gatherings, fellowship, and food are all things that make the last few months of the year a favorite for so many. Halloween parties are always super fun, but you can always guess what to expect at them. Here are 5 tips to make your Halloween party into a spa party and stand out, while giving yourself some extra TLC in the process.

1) Creepy foot baths:
Call your friends over for foot soaks and scary movies. Then surprise them by adding some creepy fake eyeballs into their foot bath. This is fun, relaxing, and allows you to catch up on some well needed time with friends. Make sure you have yourselves a snack station set up before you begin, it’ll help you to relax during the festivities without interrupting your foot soak.

2) Pumpkin hand treatment:
Something as simple as making an easy DIY sugar scrub while having friends over can help make your party unique. There are hundreds of different recipes to choose from across the internet, but since it’s Halloween, we can’t help but love this pumpkin spice sugar scrub recipe:

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub

Follow your sugar scrub up with a vanilla scented lotion, and not only will your hands be smooth and soft, but they will smell divine! If you want to go a step beyond that, you can make extra sugar scrub to send home with your guests along with a recipe that they can recreate.

3) Ghoulish Masks:
Everyone loves downtime that they can use to recharge from a busy month or prepare for a busy season. Face masks can be so relaxing and leave you feeling completely renewed. Invite your friends over for seaweed facials. Not only will this cleanse your skin and relax you, but it’s fun to slather your face with rejuvenating products while enjoying times with friends. Take your Ghoulish face masks party to the next level and buy or make some photo booth signs, letting everyone take pictures to remember the night.

4) Red Wine and Foods:
What would Halloween be without Red Wine (or should we say ‘blood’), and your favorite finger foods. Pinterest is of course one of the best ways to search for new recipes that you wouldn’t normally come across. We’ve searched Pinterest for you to find some easy, fun, and creative recipes you can enjoy at your Halloween Party.

100 Best Halloween Party Foods

5) Nail Station with Decals:
How often is it that you go to a Halloween party that has a nail bar with decals? Go to Walmart or the nearest pharmacy and, stock up on Halloween colors. Orange, black, green, and white will give you plenty of variety. Add in some creepy spider webs, blood drops, or witch hat decals for extra fun and creepiness.

Massage & Depression

Depression is an all-too-common struggle for people all over the globe. According to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that 350 million people suffer from depression. While there are many treatment options, one you may not have thought of is massage therapy. Massage can decrease muscle tension and ease some of the daily physical stress you may put on your body, but it can also go beyond just making you feel good.
A study from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine¹ found that massage decreases the stress hormone cortisol by an average of 31%. There has been a long-standing association between high cortisol or impaired regulation of cortisol levels and anxiety and depression. Decreasing cortisol and aiding the continued regulation of this hormone can potentially ease some of the symptoms of depression.
This same study also concluded that massage increases the levels of two very important feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, by 28% and 31% respectively. Both of these neurotransmitters play an important role in mood regulation.
Along with these measurable changes within the body, there are also benefits that aren’t so measurable. One of the biggest is the mind-body connection that is enhanced when massage therapy becomes a regular part of your self-care routine. When the brain and nervous system can take the time to calm down, receive plenty of oxygen during the deep breathing a massage can induce, and relish in the sensations associated with the massage – the way the pressure feels as the hands move from one muscle group to another; the pull of a good stretch; the release as a muscle finally lets go – all of these stimulate the brain to perceive the sensations of the body differently, and in a more positive way.
Massage therapy also creates a safe space for positive touch. Touch is a necessary part of being the social creatures we are as humans. A lack of touch can actually have very harsh effects on us, physically and emotionally, but many people have experienced touch in a very negative way, and avoid it as much as possible. However, taking 60 or 90 minutes once a week or once a month to allow yourself to receive positive, safe touch that you may otherwise not receive, can help ease those feelings of discomfort, loneliness, and depression. One study² found that massage therapy supported significant improvement of the psychological and physical well-being of sexual abuse survivors.
So while massage may not be a cure for depression, and it’s not a substitute for medications or therapy, it can play a major role as part of a holistic approach to the treatment of depression.
¹ Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy.
Field T1, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C.
² Body-oriented therapy in recovery from child sexual abuse: an efficacy study.
Price C1.

Headaches and Migraines

One of the most common types of headaches are tension headaches, They occurs when the muscles of the head, face and neck start to tighten. This is why tension headache are often describe as a “pressure-like feeling” at the temples or as tightening bands around the forehead or along the base of the skull. Another type of headache are migraines described as “pounding” or “throbbing” type pain. They occur when the blood vessels that supply the brain and the muscles in the head swell and constrict. Migraine pain increase with physical activity and typically lasts from couple of hours or couple of days. They may associated with other symptoms such as vision problems, extreme sensitivity to light, or nausea.

How can Massage Therapy help with headaches and migraines?

Well, Massage therapy helps to relieve both types of headaches by relaxing tension that is held in the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders. When muscle tension relaxes, there is less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that supply the muscles. Blood start to circulate, which also relieves pain. Massage therapy not only helps the muscles of the body to relax but also reduces the anxiety and mental stress that can cause headaches. Regular, ongoing massage therapy can also help to prevent headaches by helping to reduce overall stress and the muscle tension that can trigger headache pain and by helping to maintain emotional balance.

Now let’s go over some self-care tips….

  • Drink plenty of water since dehydration can cause or even make the headache worst.
  • Apply a cool cloth or ice pack to your forehead, temples, or back of the neck to ease headache pain.
  • Massage your forehead, temples, and back of the neck to relieve muscle tension.
  • Get plenty of rest.

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