by Pallas Hutchison
Massage school gave me an education on pregnancy that personal experience couldn't provide. My own experiences with pregnancy were mildly uncomfortable. Towards the end of my nine-month sentence, I felt gigantic and couldn't see my feet. My back ached from the extra weight and my boobs leaked constantly. My job, as a massage therapist, is to relieve those discomforts for other expecting mothers. I am very good at my job.
One thing I do during a pregnancy massage stands out. Because I don't have the expensive body pillow system, the pregnancy massages I provide are, by necessity, sidelying. Halfway through the massage, they need to turn over so that I can massage the other side of their body. It's the turning process itself that makes a huge difference to the majority of my pregnant clients. I ask them to turn under, not over.
The natural inclination to roll over in bed is to turn over, keeping your chest facing the ceiling. This has you fighting gravity to heft the baby belly and puts strain on the lower back, one of the common areas of complaint for pregnant women. Instead, let the weight of the baby fall towards the bed, go to all fours, then roll to the opposite side.
As part of every pregnancy massage, I explain this process and assist my clients as they awkwardly go through this motion for the first time. Then, as they settle themselves for the second half of their massage, a look of astonishment crosses their face. They just successfully rolled over without hurting themselves. With one small trick, life just got easier.
Do you have a pregnancy tip you wish you had known sooner? Comment below to share!
by Pallas Hutchison
Have you ever noticed that people take better care of their cars than they do their bodies? Cars get regular oil changes, tune ups, maintenence to prevent major issues. When it comes to their health, people wait for something to go wrong before fixing it. Essentially, our culture has become reactive instead of proactive about our health. But how can you take care of someone else, whether as a parent, a teacher, or a healthcare provider, if you cannot first take care of yourself?
This hypocrisy runs rampant in our current healthcare system. A great example of this is a personal experience I had a few years ago. My primary physician told me during a routine physical that I am obese. This one-sided diagnosis was based soley on a height/weight ratio. They didn't take into account my fitness level (muscle weighs more than fat after all), my diet, or the fact that I've had kids. Now, I am not a small woman but I can do what I need to without getting winded; I am comfortable in my own skin. The doctor in question is a small, round man that requires suspenders to keep his pants on. (I now have a different doctor.)
The United States healthcare system should incorporate more holistic, Eastern concepts. I will prove to you the value of holistic healthcare first, by explaining what holistic healthcare means and give you an overview of the treatments available. Second, I will outline and compare Western and Eastern healthcare philosophies. Third, I will explain how utilizing these options can reduce the occurence of chronic conditions using personal experiences.
Some terminology needs defining before we go any further. The term 'holistic' means it treats the entire being, not just a single organ system or joint dysfunction. It means that the mental and emotional state is taken into consideration. Somatization, a physical manifestation with emotional or psychological origins, is a concept that has been scientifically proven, accepted and subsequently ignored by the mainstream medical community. Alternative medicine is a term used to encompass most non-Western medical treatments. Complementary is the term that gets used when these alternative treatments are combined with traditional western medicine.
Although the types of complementary and alternative healthcare options available vary by country and influence, they all include dietary guidelines (which includes herbal products or supplements), exercise, different types of bodywork, and relaxation techniques. The most commonly known are acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractics (spinal manipulation) and yoga. Yoga includes more than just the Western culture's use of exercise. Relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, guided imagery, mediation, prayer, and progressive muscle relaxation. Movement therapies include Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing, Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysical integration. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are both from traditional Chinese medicine and combine movement, breathwork and focused mental stimulation. India gave birth to Ayurvedic medicine.
Both Eastern and Western healthcare philosophies discuss homeostasis, or balance but the Western healthcare system only touches on the physical aspect of homeostasis briefly, without applying it to treatment plans or diagnostics. Eastern healthcare systems address the entire person, identifying and treating the cause as well as any symptoms that are present. Eastern healthcare teaches a healthy lifestyle. Western healthcare revolves around the physical ailments. Often, it just masks or eliminates the symptoms with pharmaceuticals.
The United States healthcare system should incorporate for holistic, Eastern concepts because this will reduce the number of sufferers with chronic conditions. It is common knowledge that the human body is composed of multiple systems and other substances that function interdependently to create an intricate organism. People don't seem to draw the correlation between treating the whole body instead of just the aching joint. Countries with more holistic healthcare options have less occurrences of chronic conditions.
My daughter has seasonal allergies. The doctor told me to give her Claritin or Zyrtec daily, which worked but had side effects. The holistic approach we use now is essential oils and local honey. To get ahead of the histamine reactions, we diffuse a blend of eucalyptus and lemon essential oils while she sleeps; this combination of oils supports the respiratory system. By introducing the pollen in the form of honey, her body can learn how to process it and reduce the histamine reaction; this is focusing on the cause.
I know some people say that getting alternative healthcare treatments aren't a cost-effective option. However, insurance companies are beginning to recognize the value of, and cover or reimburse for, alternative medicine as preventative and rehabilitative care. Many practitioners offer sliding scale fees, wellness programs, &/or a discounted cash rate. Most choose their field because they wish to help people, not get rich.
I also know that some people say it isn't as scientifically proven or backed by as much research as traditional, Western medicine. Drs Swartzberg & Malden, authors of the Wellness Self-Care Handbook, acknowledge the potential benefit from alternative healthcare options of acupuncture, chiropractics and massage but caution consumers against utilizing unregulated or unlicensed practitioners. In the last decade, a plethora of research, including double-blind trials and case studies, that have been published in numerous medical journals.
Now you know more about the Eastern healthcare concepts and why integrating the holistic care into our current healthcare system will be beneficial. Western medicine is effective in treating emergencies; you can't cure a broken leg with an herb. However, medications are often overprescribed and holistic treatments are largely ignored by the mainstream consumers. As healthcare consumers, you can demand healthcare options that doesn't have a lengthy list of side effects. If you aren't willing to advocate your health, who else is?
by Pallas Hutchison
Affordability has a major impact on whether or not massage gets incorporated into someone's lifestyle. The cost of massage changes based on region, type of service, experience of the practitioner, and atmosphere. As with many things, people get what they pay for. Areas saturated with massage practices may offer a lower rate to stay competitive. Other massage therapists may offer a lower rate to attract lower income clients. Learning advanced techniques costs the massage therapist both time and money; the cost increases to compensate. Complex body treatments require more supplies and time so the cost of the service goes up to cover the additional expenses. Massage schools have a clinic that offers a lower rate for services provided by students; massage students are required to complete a set number of clinic hours. Swanky resorts and cruise lines offer high end services, lavish amenities and pricing to match. The client pays more for the atmosphere. Private massage practices, like Oasis Massage, fall somewhere between.
Most massage therapists get into this field to help people, not to get rich. Many have client loyalty programs set up to make regular massages more affordable for their clientele. Some have a punch card where you can earn a free massage after a certain number of paid visits. Some offer discounts on multiple massages purchased up front. Some offer a monthly program. Talk to your massage therapist; chances are, they're willing to work with you. That being said, please don't try to bully us or guilt your way into a steep discount. Like you, we have bills and families to support.
In the end, it comes down to value. People spend money where they see a value. As long as people see massage a luxury service, they won't bother trying to work it into their budget. For example, coffee drinkers spend an average of 2.38 per cup, up to three times per day (1). Over the course of thirty days, that adds up to over $200. [Curious about your consumption? Check out USA Today's calculator, comparing the cost of home brewed coffee to buying at Starbucks. ] Now imagine cutting back by one cup per day, saving $71. The average person can get a 60-minute massage each month around that price. Personally, I believe that the cumulative benefits of regular massage far outweigh the benefits of a cup of coffee.
by Pallas Hutchison
This is a really common question but the answer is subjective. To help you decide how often you should get a massage, think about what your goals are:
Do you have a massage story you'd like to share? Post a comment!
by Pallas Hutchison
As a massage therapist, I specialize in pain management. I enjoy the challenge of identifying the specific muscle(s) involved and find fulfillment in removing that pain for my clients. No one should have to live in pain. I believe that statement to the very core of my being but sympathy for my client's pain is not empathy. As with many things, I learned empathy the hard way.
In January 2015, I ended up in the emergency room with unexplained and excruciating pain. I didn't cry or scream during the birth of either child; I did both now. Despite the care of the EMTs, I screamed and passed out when transferred from their gurney to a hospital bed. After multiple tests, three different doctors prescribed different sets of medication but none could explain the source of the pain. Minor issues popped up but none should have left me completely debilitated, even when combined. Through all of this, fear permeated every cell of my body. I couldn't follow logic through the maze of pain. I had not injured myself; I simply woke up unable to move.
Despite the doctors' willingness to prescribe medication, they kept asking if I was a junkie. Their insistence filled me with anger and embarrassment. The fear had intensified. If I couldn't find a cause, how could I fix it? The pain would never go away or I would become dependent on painkillers to function.
For the weeks following, I needed help to walk. Using a walker at 30 brought feelings of shame and humiliation. I felt pathetic. Thankfully, this occurred during brutal snowstorms so client's were snowed in and school was cancelled. I had an excuse not to leave the house. The few occasions I did venture to a store, I felt the young clerks eyes following me. I don't know if she felt pity or disgust. Inwardly, I cringed, imagining she felt both. I had not realized how much pride I had.
Since the doctors offered only pills and no answers, I turned to what I knew: alternative medicine. A friend and colleague used a combination acupuncture and massage to reduce the pain. A month and eight sessions later, I could move without a walker or a cane but the cause remained unknown. Next came physical therapy to help strengthen weak areas in hopes of preventing a relapse; it is still ongoing.
After receiving a crash course in chronic pain, I am surprised to discover that pain is not my biggest problem. The feelings of helplessness, anger, fear, and shame are harder to combat. What I feel I should be able to do doesn't align with what I am actually able to do. Accepting my physical limitations will take time. Eventually, I may be able to return to martial arts but most days I'm happy to be able to carry laundry up the stairs or weed my garden.