Massage Therapy and Bodywork

Keep healthy during flu season by fighting germs

We all know that washing our hands with soap and warm water is the most critical thing to do. Here are some additional tips to help keep you and your family healthy, especially during flu season.

• Disinfect all electronics, including your keyboard, mouse, phone, remote control and any video game controllers.

• Don’t forget doorknobs, faucets, and light switches. These also should be disinfected to prevent the spread of germs.

• Feather dusters tend to move dust around the room rather than capture it for good. Instead, try a microfiber or electrostatic cloth.

• Slide your furniture around if it’s not heavy or ask a family member or colleague for help. You’ll be surprised by the amount of dirt and dust that hides under your couch or desk.

• Shared spaces, like the office kitchen, are germ magnets. Bring your own coffee mug and wash it daily. And throw out old sponges – a known hot spot for bacteria.

• If you suffer from allergies, you may want to try out a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air-filtered) vacuum cleaner. They have been shown to substantially remove allergens and contaminants from carpets and other surfaces.

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Stay focused and keep your Resolutions on track

The new year is finally here and many of us have already begun contemplating a personal list of resolutions for the New Year. As expected, some of these goals will fall by the wayside after only a month or two. With the holidays behind us, now is the time to get focused, set realistic goals and finally let 2012 be the year of the Resolution Revolution!

Whether you are focusing on healthy living or organization, tying a personal meaning to your resolution will help make your goals more attainable. Do you want to kick your smoking habit because of all the health hazards? Have you knocked out foods with high cholesterol because of your family history of heart disease? Understanding the long-term benefits of your resolution will help keep you on track.

Seek motivation by telling family and friends of your progress and realize that results take time. If you find yourself struggling to reach your personal goals, reevaluate your resolutions without giving up completely.

The most important thing to remember is that you can achieve your New Year’s resolutions by staying focused and maintaining a positive attitude each and every day. From all of us at Massage Envy, we want to wish you a New Year filled with good health and wellness.

Surviving the upcoming Holiday Feasts

It’s just a matter of time before all of the holiday invites start coming your way– Christmas Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, the excuses to eat continue! Prepare to sit down at a table filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and cookies.  Thank god you’re wearing stretchy pants!

While the holidays are a time to celebrate and indulge, you want to be sure not to go overboard. Enjoy the holiday season without adding inches to your waistline with these basic healthy eating survival tips.

  1. Start your day off by exercising. The more calories you burn now, the more you can enjoy later.
  2. Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day to prepare for a big dinner.
  3. Don’t arrive at a party hungry. This may lead to poor eating decisions. Eat a piece of fruit or yogurt before heading out.
  4. When at dinner, first fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Then add the holiday treats; just be mindful of portion control.
  5. Pass on sugary soft drinks and instead satisfy your sweet tooth with one piece of dessert.
  6. Hydrate with water. Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty.
  7. Be mindful of alcohol. Beer, wine and alcohol are high in calories and will definitely stimulate your appetite.
  8. Leave the leftovers. It’s okay to indulge here and there, but don’t take the holiday grub home to your fridge.
  9. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes to start feeling full. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite to help curb overeating.
  10. Finally, have fun! Don’t stress about treating yourself during the holidays. Just enjoy your time with friends and family over good, delicious food.

Get the most of your next session by adding a scent

Roses. Fresh-cut grass. Your mother’s perfume. Mint. An orange being peeled.

These are smells many of us can imagine. Whether good or bad in our minds, smells can take us back to an event in time and provoke emotion. They can wake us up – or relax us. And that’s what’s at work behind aromatherapy.

“Fragrance is processed in an area of the brain that also processes memory and emotion,” says Mindy Green, co-author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art and owner of botanicals consulting company Green Scentsations.

“It’s a lock-and-key system,” adds Kathy Padecky, certified massage therapist and instructor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. “You can smell a scent and immediately feel an emotion.”

Aromatherapy and Its History

It’s important to note that aromatherapy isn’t just about any smell, Green says. A number of perfumed products on the market, she says, have diluted the reputation of aromatherapy – and given consumers the wrong impression.

“True aromatherapy is only gained by essential oils derived from nature,” she says. “You might find a fragrance that smells nice and even evokes a memory, but you don’t get the same therapeutic effect from a synthetic.”

So, what are essential oils? They’re complex mixtures of chemical compounds found in aromatic plants, writes Anne Williams, author of Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists. Specialized structures that store essential oils are found in leaves, needles, twigs, bark, heartwood, flowers, fruits, stems, roots, flowering tops, zests and peels.

While plants have been used as medicine since early civilizations, modern aromatherapy owes its beginning to French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. Already familiar with chemicals because of his exposure to his family’s perfumery business, he began experimenting with oils to heal wounds, later coining the term aromatherapy.

The Benefits and Caveats

Essential oils have various uses. “For example, some essential oils are topical analgesics,” Williams writes. “When they are applied to soft tissue they decrease sensations of pain. Oils like lavender, Roman or German chamomile, and sweet marjoram sedate the body and decrease stress because they stimulate an area of the brain which causes the release of serotonin.”

During a massage, an oil like lavender can help you relax in order to maximize the effects of your massage. And at the end of a massage, a stimulating oil might be used to help you wake up.

But, Green warns, not all scents are for everyone.

“Everybody has different scent perceptions,” she says. So, if you favor a certain scent over another, go with your preference. Something you dislike may not relax you just because it relaxes someone else.

And, Padecky notes, pregnant women are advised not to use aromatherapy, particularly during the first trimester. In addition, people with allergies or asthma may find triggers in certain oils and should be cautious. Plus, some oils, such as citrus oils, can make skin particularly sensitive to the sun.

For most people, however, aromatherapy has tremendous therapeutic benefits especially when
combined with a massage therapy session. “The whole premise of taking a deep breath and slowing down is part of meditation,” Green says. “Then, you add that to inhaling something you find pleasant, and stress just melts away.”

Relieve Tired Eyes

Finally, you have a great night’s sleep and feel relaxed and rejuvenated. You start your morning routine, look in the mirror and notice that those annoying dark circles are still there. We know how frustrating this can be. But it’s important to remember that the skin around your eyes is very delicate. One night of restful sleep may not do the trick. So, we called upon the skincare experts at Murad® to learn more about dark circles and how to prevent them.

The skin around the eyes is fragile, and readily shows the signs of age, fatigue and stress. The tissue is thinner, water evaporation is rapid and the collagen and elastin fibers are less numerous. In addition, the eye area has few (if any) oil-producing glands, so it requires intense hydration that my not be appropriate for the rest of your face.

Although some dark circles are genetic, you can reduce their appearance by getting plenty of sleep and keeping your body hydrated by eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables on daily basis.

You can also relieve tired eyes with products that contain wild yam and soybean to increase firmness, caffeine and light refractors to minimize puffiness and chamomile extract to calm and soothe.

Most importantly, take time to relax! Sleep and relaxation are key to keeping your eyes looking refreshed and youthful. Try taking a hot bath before bed and make sure to shut off all distractions (television, Smartphone and computers) an hour before you turn in for the night.

At all Massage Envy Spa clinics, we offer four different Murad® Healthy Skin facials, as well as an array of Murad® skincare products. To determine what treatment is best for your skin, visit http://www.massageenvy.com/facials.

Massage the Pain Away

One of the reasons many of us turn to massage therapy is to heal and help manage pain, including chronic pain such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.

From backaches and shoulder pain to leg cramps and muscle spasms, massage can help. We turned to our own C.G. Funk, Licensed Massage Therapist and Vice President of Industry Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy, to give us the scoop.

Proper Posture

Many aches and pains are due to poor posture. With a consistent program of massage therapy, the painful points in muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints have greater freedom, and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.

Tense Muscles

Massage therapy flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid that carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.

Flexibility

By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massage can stimulate the production and retention of our bodies’ natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, making stretching and movement easier, and keeping the body flexible.

Pain Management

Especially when nursing an injury back to full strength, increasing circulation and relaxing muscles helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating areas to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.

Visit Massage Envy’s Touch of Wellness Blog or http://www.massageenvy.com/ to learn more.

ME Arthritis Charity Event: Healing Hands for Arthritis

One in five adults live with arthritis. Take a look at this video and help us at Massage Envy support the fight as we donate $10 from every one-hour massage and facial on October 12 — World Arthritis Day — to the Arthritis Foundation.

The Arthritis Foundation encourages people with arthritis to be active participants in managing their disease. The Foundation’s vision is simply, “A world free from arthritis pain.” Massage therapy is recognized as being effective in relieving painful symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, improving circulation, increasing joint flexibility, lessening depression and anxiety, improving sleep, and providing an overall sense of well-being. Massage Envy and the Arthritis Foundation share a common understanding of a serious problem and the opportunities for common solutions.

To schedule an appointment and join in the fight against arthritis at a Massage Envy clinic nearest you, please visit MassageEnvy.com. For more information about arthritis or the Arthritis Foundation, please visit Arthritis.org.

Vibrant Skin from the Inside Out

Like the average American, do you tend to wake up around 6am every morning in order to run around prepping lunch boxes, speeding to work, gulping down coffee, bringing kids to practices, and walking the dog until 11pm rolls around and you plop into bed exhausted?

Life can be stressful and busy, but with the right balance of sleep, exercise, stress management and diet, you can learn a few simple steps that will rejuvenate your skin making you look and feel better!

According to Dr. Murad, your skin is connected to every one of your organs. By making your body healthy, you make your skin healthy. “Topical skincare addresses approximately 20 percent of the skin, the epidermis. The remaining 80 percent, the dermis, responds by feeding the skin from the inside,” says Dr. Murad. “Eating a diet rich in raw fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, such as those found in nuts and olive oil, will promote healthy, hydrated cells.”

At the same time, a regular exercise routine can benefit your waistline as well as your skin– “Exercise builds muscle and attracts water to our cells,” Dr. Murad says.

Also, sleep deprivation may cause skin to appear sallow and dry, so getting your ideal amount of sleep is extremely important. Remember that everybody requires a different amount of sleep (for adults, it’s usually between 7-9 hours).

Lastly, environmental factors play a huge part in the health of your skin. We’ve all been lectured about the importance of sunscreen… Dr. Murad suggests wearing an SPF 15 everyday.

Common Health Myths Busted

There are hundreds of health myths that have been circulating both online and offline for years. Here are a few common ones that you may find surprising:

Cold Weather May Cause Illness

  • Believe it or not, cold weather has no effect on whether or not someone will get sick. The rhinovirus, cause of the common cold, is just that – a virus. As such, it doesn’t depend on external forces of nature to spread from host to host. However, cold weather forces more people inside and into closer proximity. It’s likely that this increased cohabitation and interaction allows the virus to spread.

Knuckle Crackers Will Suffer from Arthritis

  • Avid knuckle crackers are at no more risk to get arthritis than people without the habit. However, those prone to cracking their knuckles do find that they have weaker hand strength.  An increased risk of swelling in the hands is also a result of popping your knuckles.

Body Heat Escapes through the Head

  • Various studies conducted have shown that, in cold weather, the majority of body heat is lost through the head. What these studies fail to account for is that the participants were dressed in warm clothing except for hats. By this comparison, more heat was lost from the head than from covered parts of the body. The truth is, body heat is lost through any uncovered part of the body.

Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms are Sanitary

  • In an attempt to be more sanitary, many public restrooms now have motion-activated hand dryers instead of paper towel dispensers. Unfortunately, these dryers often have massive amounts of bacteria growing inside them. The fans can then blow the collected bacteria up to six feet away from the dryer’s own location. As such, these dryers are just as dirty as the door handles.

Reading in Low Light Ruins Eyesight

  • Eyes often adjust themselves according to the light, as experienced when a person steps from a dark room into sunlight. This is also true when reading in dim light. While there is a strain on the eyes, no actual damage occurs. Eyesight returns to normal after a period of rest. This is also true of watching television in the dark or using the computer in the dark.

Humans Use Only 10% of their Brains

  • Recent studies and imaging technologies have shown that there is not a single part of the brain that remains completely inactive. Multiple areas react to different stimuli, functions, and situations. While the brain may not always be 100% active at all times, humans simply could not function if only a portion of the brain was used.

Cell Phones Cause Cancer

  • Radiation has been linked to the development of cancer. However, humans are exposed to amounts of radiation normally throughout the day. Certain foods, like bananas, even give off radiation. The small amounts of electromagnetic radiation given off by cell phones aren’t enough to damage cells, and the body easily repairs any damage that does occur.

These are just some of the myths you should be aware of in your day-to-day war on unhealthy behaviors. So the next time someone tries to lecture you on the dangers of cell phones and cracking your knuckles, you’ll be the wiser!

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