I quite often hear the term 'masseuse' used to describe my job. That always makes me cringe when I hear that. However, it wasn't until 2010 that I understood the implications and meaning of the term and want to share the history of the title and the appropriate titles to use.
"Massage helps me when my hamstrings feel tight and it feels like my whole body needs to be 'oiled'. It brings the glide back into my stride. Deep tissue massage is great about a week before a race for this reason. A post race massage helps my muscles recover much faster so I can start training again sooner. Also, it was key for my grand slam attempt last year when I had some big races close together on the calendar. " - Erin, ultra-runner
Let's face it. Running is tough on the body. I know it's not for everyone but many people really enjoy it and get a lot out of it, including me. I have been running since I could walk. It is my go-to stress reliever and form of exercise.
Over the years working with many athletic clients I have seen how massage does wonders by bringing new blood to muscles, increasing flexibility, preventing injury, prepping for an event, and treating old injuries.
For more specifics, I found a great article from Runner's World: http://www.runnersworld.com/for-beginners-only/benefits-of-massage-for-runners/
Basically, they say that running constricts the muscles with the repetitive pattern; motion is limited by the resulting tighter, shorter muscles. Manual manipulation, i.e. massage improves functionality on a cellular level with increased oxygen flow and metabolic waste removal. It can decrease blood pressure, open blood vessel size, amp up blood circulation, decrease muscle aches and pains, improve joint mobility and stride, quicken repair of muscle tears, and lower cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels. They note how the effects are more noticeable and beneficial over time with treatments and frequency varying per person.
I couldn't agree more.
Last post we discussed correct desk ergonomics. Here we are focusing on static stretches you can do during the day at your desk. They can help you avoid repetitive movement injuries, tension related pain and bad posture.
These six stretches help with the areas that are affected most by sitting at a desk: the spine, neck, hands, forearms, shoulders and hips.
Make sure you start from an upright, seated position away from your desk with plenty of space. Address each side and breath slowly and deeply. Go to the point where you feel some resistance but not pain. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
Desk Ergonomics 101
We all spend time on the computer. In the last seven years, I have seen an increase in complaints about neck, shoulder, wrist and arm soreness/pain. I once worked with an 8-year-old who was having problems with this neck from looking down at laptop for too many hours. There is a way to prevent these issues.
This is how you should be sitting...
When using proper ergonomics you will sit as though you are driving a car. Your spine should be tall and straight, with your shoulders and arms relaxed. Lower back support is helpful. Both feet should rest flat on the ground or on a foot rest. Elbows should be at a relaxed right angle with the wrists resting on a cushion in front of the keyboard. Eyes and head face forward with the monitor an extended arm's length away.
Here are more specifics Read more here.
Try to check in on your posture throughout the day with plenty of breaks to get up and walk around and stretch. This is a good way to avoid chronic pain related to posture and repeated movements.
Stay tuned for the next post which will focus on stretches you can do during the workday to further relieve muscle fatigue and soreness.
Image credit: http://www.eppingwellness.com/further_reading.html
How I met your muscles…
Okay, kids, this is the story of how I met your muscles.
I was treated to my first professional massage when I was sixteen. I won a gift certificate for raising money for a dance-a-thon. The massage therapist that worked with me was a true professional. She talked me through everything and went over and beyond to make sure I got the most of the treatment. This stayed with me, leaving a positive impact on the benefits and true healing power of a good massage.
Fast forward a couple years later to senior year of high school. I knew I wanted a career I loved. I wanted to help people, make a difference in the world for the better, not have to worry about money, and enjoy my job. It seemed like life would be meaningless torture to just do a job to make good money. This created quite a dilemma for me. There was a long list of things I enjoyed and different career paths I could follow. Looking back I would strongly advocate for gap years and apprenticeships after high school to explore different careers and find your true calling. Well, and do your research.
I did not do that. I started two days after high school graduation in a private arts college to study interior design. Once I was there, things went awry. My “college level” math class professor asked me my first semester to sub the class for him while he was away for a few days. Well, of course I could, it was 6th-grade math! I was quickly realizing this was not the strong foundation and challenging “college” academic I was seeking. Nor would it be an ideal first degree. The art classes were great but at over 30k a year not worth it. Then I found out the LA campus was not accredited. Yikes, time to move on.
Six months of college in my pocket I pursued a nearby community college I had heard great things about. In-state tuition at the time was $12 per credit. I worked at a home depot company in bath department sales and apprenticed for an interior designer for six months to be considered a California resident. I ended up working for the designer for over a year and really enjoyed it but also came to the conclusion it wasn’t my ideal career. I also explored many different classes at SMC to finally land on Psychology as a major. I still wasn’t sure about what I wanted to be when I grew up but felt that this would be the start in the right direction.
Fast forward to my college graduation. I landed at UC Berkeley with a Bachelors in Psychology. I was burnt out on school and wasn’t mad about continuing towards a Masters, then PhD/PsyD and more debt. The job prospects weren’t too exciting in the bay area at the time so I packed up my car, moved back to LA and fell into a job in finance, working for a private family.
Finance? Yes, finance. I had learned Quickbooks and basic accounting when I worked for the interior designer and later got stuck doing accounts payable for a print and film studio in LA while I was going to community college. The best job option after college graduation involved work as a bookkeeper and executive assistant. It was a cushy job. I had my own office, insurance was completely covered, I had a decent paycheck, and many perks. I was not happy, though. I found myself living for my evenings and weekends. Two years into the job I was let go when the family lost money in the market crash. No warning, the floor fell out from under me. I didn’t know it at the time but this turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was free to find the career I truly enjoyed. I looked through many different jobs but nothing really excited me.
There was still a lingering curiosity I had always wanted to explore massage therapy. When I really started listening to myself and returning to what I originally wanted in a career I ended up in a massage training program. It was there when classes started that it seemed like everything clicked. Massage therapy was a perfect blend of my love for being active, new experiences, art, science, health, making a difference for the better in people’s lives, and presenting new challenges to continue learning.
It hasn’t been an easy path but I feel so much more fulfilled in what I do. I don’t live solely for my evenings and weekends. I am constantly presented with new challenges and have an endless list of classes I want to take and things to learn. I have gained so much from each place I have worked and each body I have worked on.
It was clear from my first experience how important it is for a client to feel well-informed and comfortable. Since my initial massage, I have received many "bad" treatments where I felt neither comfortable nor informed. It is not a great place to be as a client in those positions. Thus, it has always been my goal to be professional, well-educated, helpful, and most of all, strive to make every client comfortable and to get the most of every treatment.
Well, I guess that sums out how I met your muscles. This story is not over, however. There is so much more to come...