Bodily pain is an aspect of being human that we can all relate too. We all perceive pain differently. There is an aspect to each and every one of us that makes us slightly or dramatically different than the next person. There are many ways to calculate this.
Everything that makes us who we are determines how we engage with ourselves and the world around us. Our engagement with bodily pain looks different from person to person. There are so many ways to engage. Two ways that come to mind are A) acknowledgment and B) long term engagement. Exploring these is fascinating because it can show us the process of certain outcomes materializing. The major property of acknowledgement is recognizing that the pain exists but nothing further. Long term engagement is not only recognizing that the pain exists but also beginning a journey with it (more on this later). Sometimes you have to have many instances where the acknowledgment awareness presents itself to eventually begin the long term engagement process. There are also instances where acknowledgement takes place over and over again for a long time with nothing to show for it.
Let’s first look more in depth at acknowledgment. Like stated before acknowledgment here is when something is recognized but no further action is taken. In the depths of this type of engagement our mind understands that there is pain but there is no reason to take any sort of action to deal with it. When this approach is consistently used eventually acute pain evolves into a chronic pain situation. Why would our mind go this route? I believe this happens because it requires less awareness and perceived energy from us to just not deal with it and carry on with our lives. We also justify it as no big deal in order to save money, or preserve our “precious” time. There are all sorts of justifications that arise. Our mind becomes subconsciously attached to this pattern.
Then there is long term engagement. This type of engagement is where action takes place and a journey is embarked on. Peeling the layers of the onion of a specific pain in the body brings us closer to its origin and even sometimes we discover other aspects of ourselves that have been needing to be revealed.
Why does it sometimes take so long to eventually embark on a long term journey? We can look at this from a neuro-chemical standpoint. The anticipation of something happening causes dopamine to run through our brains. This chemical creates a high for us physiologically but once the outcome we are seeking arrives the crash from this is intense, but the high outweighs the crash most of the time so we repeat this. Something to note: the dopamine is released when the anticipation of something is going to happen quickly or very soon. If the outcome of something is a long ways away weeks, months, years then dopamine isn’t nearly as effective in giving us that high our brains are seeking if we engage enough with short term processes. Embarking on a long term journey is when we have to remind ourselves and remind our brains that we are not going to constantly receive the dopamine high, that we are slowly building something that along the way will keep us progressing in some fashion. This moment is when the chemical serotonin is released validating for us physiologically that we are progressing towards something that has deep meaning for us and purpose.
Sometimes we have to get out of our own way in order to see more clear, we also have to recognize those tough times when we just can’t seem to get out of our own way can also be viewed as moments that are bringing us closer to the truth, closer to engaging with serotonin and keeping us grounded.
A massage session is a very unique experience for both the recipient and the practitioner. For both parties there are moments where you are getting to know each other for the first time and possibly over the course of many sessions. Alongside that is the space that is simultaneously being created to promote a therapeutic outcome at the end of the session. Not only for the recipient but also for the practitioner.
There are various forms of dialogue and they all support a therapeutic outcome but at different stages within the massage/body work session. Let’s take a look at these stages.
1. The initial meet and greet: This stage is when both the practitioner and the recipient are meeting each other for the first time or after more than one session together. Dialogue in regards to catching up and small talk is very appropriate here and expected.
2. Consultation regarding the session: This stage is when the recipient and practitioner are dialoguing about what the recipient wants to work on during the session and anything else they want to express in regards to the session.
3. The body: This is the meat and potatoes of the session. The decision to come together as practitioner and recipient is solely because of this stage. Where the body work and massage takes place. Dialoguing during this stage is only necessary when the practitioner or recipient wants to communicate something in regards to the session itself in a given moment. This is not a great time to discuss anything else. What is the reasoning for this?
For massage therapy and body work to produce the most therapeutic outcome possible the nervous system of the recipient and practitioner have to come together. For that to happen the sympathetic division of the recipient’s nervous system needs to be able to go into a place of dormancy in order to awaken and activate the parasympathetic division.
Accessing the parasympathetic nervous system during a massage session gives the body an intentional chance to induce healing, recalibration, and deep restoration to take place. If talking and dialoguing is happening the sympathetic system is maintained and engaged inadvertently creating a stress response from the body not letting it completely go deep and to relax.
This is important also for the practitioner because if they are trying to pay attention to a discussion during the session they are not dropping in deep as well thereby resulting in not providing their best work.
4. Wrapping it up: This stage of the session is between the time the practitioner finishes the session and when they depart the recipient. Dialoguing about how the session went, along with any general discussion is welcome.
If you are someone who is a recipient of massage usually and you are reading this and you come across a practitioner who wants to dialogue throughout “The Body” of the session you can always express to them that you really want to drop deep into yourself to experience profound healing. Chances are the practitioner will drop in as well.
Massage and body work is a sacred space that needs to be respected. There is no need to talk over it. It doesn’t do what it is designed to do when it gets interrupted. Enjoy your massage and body work sessions!
There are many techniques and modalities within massage therapy. Each of these when used with intention and focus can bring about some incredible results and responses within the body. Every person that gets on the table has a different body composition and their nervous system’s respond and react to stimuli differently. One technique that is so profoundly effective is the pin and stretch technique. Essentially the practitioner creates a pin where they put pressure on a specific area of someones body and holding the tissue in place effectively shortening it. From there they bring that muscle or tissue into its range of motion.
Here is the interesting thing though this technique also includes sort of a sub technique which we like to call pin and move. This technique involves more of the superficial layers of tissue called fascia. The pressure or pin employed on this layer of tissue is a bit lighter but more at an angle not necessarily downward pressure. A range of motion movement with a limb isn’t used but rather taking fascial tissue in the same area and moving it in various directions around that fascial pin to elicit a specific response. This is all happening on top of muscle belly tissue. This technique we have found really helps to eventually get to those deeper layers where the muscle belly is and then employing pin and stretch on those muscles.
Most of the time pinning and moving tissue is the best way to gain access not only to someone’s deeper muscles but most importantly signaling their nervous system to let go. The body needs a reason to open up and to let go. Employing the pin and move and then the pin and stretch techniques gives the nervous system those adequate stimuli enough to where the body now has a reason to open up. Not everyone’s body responds right off the bat to this technique sometimes other techniques have to be used before this one can be integrated into a body work session.
As the person on the table just always remember if the technique being used by your therapist isn’t causing you any direct or acute pain just keep breathing and try to sit back within yourself and observe your body going to places it hasn’t been in a long time or maybe never has been. When you are on the table no effort is required to experience healing. Never forgot that!
How do we pinpoint pain? It is a tall task in some aspects because of how many different heads that it can rear along with how subjective it is. There are so many different versions of pain. Emotional pain, physical pain, acute pain, severe pain, chronic pain, the list goes on. One type of experienced pain can open up a can of worms and bring about many other types with it. It can be so intense and daunting at times that it can take over our lives and hinder our growth and potential. It can also be dormant and subtle but chip away at us for far too long creating unnecessary speed bumps.
The body work field and profession on the surface deals with physical pain coupled with chronic pain and acute pain specific to a certain area on someone’s body. Pain within the body usually has more of a back story than just “My low back hurts and I am not sure why”. Although this is a very simple statement there are usually multiple factors as to why this is. 1. Could be repetitive motions done in a manner that puts strain on the low back. 2. A quick jarring movement that, the person’s body is not accustomed to doing. 3. Not enough strength built in that area to protect the back and keep it sturdy. 4. Inflammation build up from poor diet or lifestyle could be a factor causing the low back to be compromised. As you can see there are so many background factors that need to be brought forth into the foreground.
As a society in order to grow and expand our awareness on pain we need to really have to be honest about where it is coming from and not try to put too many bandaids on it. The more we can be honest about where the pain might be coming from the more we can heal on a multitude of levels. For instance someone with neck pain could be affected emotionally because it prohibits them from enjoying their life and doing the things they love with the people they love. Pain as far as we can tell usually has comorbidity.
Pain relief in the physical body without the bandaid can really change people’s lives. As massage therapists we want to be able to guide your body and mind into an awareness building state. Being in a body brings many challenges and it is really important to understand that taking care of our bodies needs sounds simple but once that is done can be so profound and bring about amazing changes. This is the beginning to understand a specific pain that you might be dealing with and then be able to understand more of the backstory behind it. A positive way to look at pain is that it is essentially an opportunity. It is an opportunity to learn, grow, and persevere. The story that is created while healing from pain is immensely powerful and is worth it. The great thing about massage and body work is that it is intrinsically connected to all other forms of a holistic lifestyle and because of that pain is looked at through an all encompassing lens. Healing will come with a broad but focused and slightly objective look at the pain. This approach negates the band aid and starts the story of regaining your power.
Our bodies are comprised as one whole unit with various different parts all working harmoniously as a team, for optimal function and homeostasis. It is such a remarkable existence living within a body. Each and every part of us down to our atomic structures are in accordance with one another to continue to exist and stay alive. All of these parts of our bodies are categorized into various systems. All of these systems are seamlessly connected by layers of tissue called fascia. This tissue is all encompassing. It is connected and envelopes everything within us. With its literal broadness as well as it being viewed as a broad non specific term, hard science has a tough time really understanding its role and function but it is being more and more recognized.
Within body work and manual therapy fascia is kind of like the holy grail when it comes to understanding dysfunction in the body. For body workers and manual therapists understanding that there is a fascial layer above all of our muscles as well as above each individual muscle is very important to induce quality therapeutic and healing work for someone.
A vitally important reason for this is because fascia has the ability to bring awareness to it in order to induce change to alter body composition. Let’s take a look at an example. A person comes to a manual therapist for treatment. They say that they have a sore low back. They believe the reason for their low back soreness is because of many hours of sitting in chairs and couches while on the computer for their job and of course leisure time. With this sore low back most likely the muscles in their lumbar spine as well as muscles that attach to the sacrum are being shortened, tightened, and stagnated. The reason for this is not because the muscles themselves are retreating but more because the fascial layers associated with these muscles are being conditioned to keep the low back muscles from being able to move more freely.
So what is the key here? The key here is to bring awareness to the fascial layers of the low back. For someone that doesn’t have the skill set yet to bring awareness to their low back on their own that is where manual therapy comes in. The manual therapist will use a variety of various techniques unique to that person’s body structure to assist in bringing awareness to the area of dysfunction (this can offer temporary and profound visceral releases of the structures right on the area as well as within the vicinity).
Awareness really with everything is vital to induce change. Without it stagnation occurs and that messy clutter that fills our mental, physical, and spiritual spaces begins to have free rein over us. Taming the clutter can only happen with awareness. I digress to reiterate that fascia teams up with our brain to offer awareness. Once awareness is accessed by our fascial layer around a specific area of dysfunction we are then able to create change outside of the treatment room and in our every day lives.
Manual therapists are here to assist the body in creating this change, we are not here to do it. For the change to occur and progress to a desired outcome it is important for us to be able to humble ourselves enough to be able to work on changing our body composition for the dysfunction to evolve.
There seems to be 3 distinct parts of the pie that when put together become human. 1. Our thoughts, 2. Our bodies, 3. Our spirit. All 3 of these pie pieces are directly related to one another. Thanks to science we are beginning to understand how these components are connected by how are brains interact with the rest of our being through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters transmit a message from a nerve cell across a synapse to a target cell. This target cell could be another nerve cell, a muscle cell, or a gland cell. Accessing neurotransmitters with intention can instantly bring the 3 pieces of the pie to more of a state of balance and homeostasis.
Below are some common neurotransmitters that when accessed fairly regularly can bring about a balanced healthy lifestyle. By having a better understanding of these chemical messengers we will be able to see how massage therapy and bodywork can directly and naturally activate many of these chemicals to keep us on a balanced path.
This is just a minimal amount of neurotransmitters that are active in us. These few listed are well known and by developing a better understanding of how to access them naturally we can see where we might be lacking or where we might be overloading creating an imbalance. The great thing about massage therapy and body work is that this treatment is not one dimensional and can access some of these neurotransmitters directly and indirectly during a session.
If someone wants to come in for bodywork that is overloaded with adrenaline because of stress massage therapy could activate the GABA neurotransmitter as well as a healthy hit of dopamine to signal to the brain that this massage is pleasurable and rewarding creating a more relaxed bodily and mental response.
Another person could want bodywork that is lacking human connection and touch in their lives and their oxytocin levels are low. Massage for them could help increase their GABA levels to help them relax more and then get oxytocin flowing in their body to increase feelings of well being and trusting of another human’s touch.
For people that are restless at night and find it hard to fall asleep a great way to aid in the increase of melatonin levels could be by receiving a massage in a dimly lit room at a more night time hour (7pm). This could do wonders for someone with insomnia or just general nighttime restlessness.
Another great example is with endorphins. For someone that has a certain tender spot on their body or sensitive area that they want to be worked on endorphins could potentially be released for that person in order to cope with productive temporary discomfort in order to heal.
This is why massage and body work is so powerful for the human body, mind, and spirit. When our lives are governed by these neurotransmitters learning what activities we can partake in in order to interact with them is so vital to having an awesome and meaningful life. Adding massage therapy to this list of activities could be life changing for many of us.
Breuning, L. (2012). Meet Your Happy Chemicals. Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin. Oakland: System Integrity Press
The realm of bodywork and massage is quite vast. It can be overwhelming for the recipient to choose a path of body work for them that is going to satisfy their present condition. There are many different modalities of massage but in reality none of these modalities will have any positive effect on the recipient if the massage is not therapeutic.
So what exactly does therapeutic mean when it comes to body work and massage? Our definition is that the body work in some way has made a more positive impact on the recipient and that your therapist makes you feel completely comfortable and safe. Also the techniques employed by the therapist are sequenced in such a way where the recipient’s nervous system can let go to the point where they are no longer holding on to certain tension spots. Being a recipient to massage it is easy to want to hold your breath and tense your muscles when a therapist is working on tight areas, the therapist when recognizing this should be able to intuitively work with your muscles, fascia, and your body to where you can begin to let go.
We have all had massage experiences where it just was not satisfying and sometimes you even feel worse then when you came in. A main reason for this is because the therapist was not really listening to your body and working intuitively and skillfully with what your body wanted. At this point it would not really matter what modality was being employed.
What could a therapeutic massage potentially feel like? Besides the intuitive feel from the therapist if otherwise noted the full body should be tended too. Even if there are certain areas where you want to focus on, the full body should still be covered. Even with focal points the therapist should be able to include the rest of the body in a way that doesn’t feel rushed or out of balance.
Another indicator of a quality therapeutic experience is if the therapist is working on the attachments to your joints. This is where ligaments and tendons are being stimulated which absolutely feels amazing. Sometimes when the attachments to your joints are being stimulated the muscle belly associated with that attachment will be able to relax and let go quite well. The technique that can bring about a great therapeutic feel to your joints is when the therapist works on releasing the fascial layers associated with the joint. Click here for a better understanding of fascia.
The last thing that is very indicative of a therapeutic experience is if the therapist is able to apply varying amounts of pressure depending on the part of the body they are working on. Although you might want a deep tissue massage not all parts of your body are going to receive the same amount of pressure. If a therapist is not able to be consciously aware of this throughout the massage it could wind up being a quite unpleasant experience.
This understanding of a therapeutic massage is a great thing to keep with you when you are looking to book your next appointment. This will give you a much better idea of what to look for as well as empower you to ask your therapist questions and maybe even give them in the moment feedback while you are on the table.
We are becoming more and more of an at home society not just because of COVID 19 but in general. We can access pretty much anything from the outside world in the comfort of our own homes. To some degree this can be beneficial and save time and money. It can also take us away from real life interactions and everyday experiences out in the world. There is definitely a balance. As an at home society almost every necessity to being healthy is being met without having to go very far. It is fascinating to see this because we are now able to take matters into our own hands more and more. We no longer have to go to an exclusive location to acquire a good or sometimes even a service.
Time and health are probably and will be forever the most invaluable resources we have as humans. They cannot be replaced and are the most real things we have. When both of these things are combined to create an experience where time is not surrounded by fear and health is driving the experience the value is sky high.
A quality therapeutic and holistic health service that is available to arrive to wherever you are is something to take advantage of in our world today. Sure it is easy to take advantage of many other goods and services at the click of a button but a therapeutic health service is unmatched. Why is it unmatched? It is unmatched because of care and compassion. Our health being cared for from a mindful place by someone else is a real treat. Coated by warmth, simplicity, and focus. One of the best services to accomplish this is massage.
The benefits of massage from relaxation, to the releasing of muscle tension, as well as to amplifying our more subtle bodies to blissful enhanced states is simply just perfect. The at ease mindset that you adopt when your therapeutic massage service comes to you, without you having to go to it really shifts the energy to “this is my personal experience.” There is no worry about finding parking or other trivial things like "what outfit should I wear to a public spa?" You are able to be more of yourself in your own space. As mobile massage therapists we are also more aware and mindful of many different kinds of spaces and places that we travel to. We are not judging a space or a place by its superficial appearance. We want to provide you with the most exceptional service you are seeking for yourself. These points are important because overall they create an even less stressful experience for the recipient.
If you are someone visiting Hawaii or a local resident mobile massage is great for both. As a visitor figuring out where you want to stay can sometimes be tricky and or overwhelming. There are so many options from air bnbs, to Vrbo’s, to hotels, hostels, motels, condos, and many more. When choosing your place to stay you want to be as comfortable as you would feel at home ideally. Having a mobile massage service come to you can make your stay feel comfortable, safe, and in a sense cared for. It is a great way to ease into your trip here and also ease out of it when it is time to leave, and of course a great way to integrate it in the middle of your stay to keep the relaxing vibe going. Not only that but trying to find a spa or facility on the island can add a level of stress to an experience where you want to fully let go and not have to worry about anything.
As a resident on the island being able to stay comfortable at your home without having to leave to pay for spa prices is one great advantage to using mobile massage. Your day to day obligations and routines also have a better opportunity to flow better if you are wanting to schedule a mobile massage as compared to a service at a facility. If you are working and feel rushed to get to your appointment and like you are not able to fully let go when you get there the peace of mind a mobile massage can give is great. After a day working you can come home wind down to get ready for your massage appointment. The appointment is also more customizable and personable.
Overall there are many great benefits to mobile massage. This is not to say that receiving massage at a spa or other facility is completely pointless and or not as good. This just highlights some of the unique benefits mobile massage offers. And of course stay safe everyone and we hope to see visitors out to the Hawaiian Islands as soon as possible.
We are facing unprecedented times right now. COVID 19 is inserting itself into every corner of our lives. We are faced now with making certain decisions that we never really thought about before. Decisions based on the basics of human interaction and connection. Having to consciously think about how far we are actually standing from someone. We are having to rethink how we greet people usually with a handshake but…. now what? Life Is becoming strange and some would say almost apocalyptic in a way. These are low energetic negative thoughts and feelings about this time right now. There is positives within this too. We are all beginning to wake up a little bit and look around more, reflect more, and realize what we do have is something we should never take for granted.
With people having to stay at home and socially isolate our more innate selves are beginning to blossom. Our more creative and intuitive selves are beginning to emerge more often. We are wanting to be in touch with our families more and spend more time with some of them now. We are also and most importantly spending quality time with ourselves more. This is one of the more fascinating by-products of this pandemic. We are literally being forced by nature to be in our homes. To be in a small somewhat contained area.
As human beings especially in this modern world socialization and just being around people in public even if they are strangers is something that we superficially thrive on. Sure it can feel nice to be somewhere with a decent amount of people. The feeling of being out and about with all the other citizens of the world, but deep down we know we will have to get back to ourselves at some point to address our own individual life and step away from the distraction of being around others. The distraction to not have to engage with ourselves. This is one of the most powerful times in modern history because of this. We have been so distant from ourselves especially since the technology boom that it has become easy to question, what is real in this life? It now feels as if the circumstances we are being put into make our lives in a way seem more real. Simply because we have more time to be with ourselves. The more time we spend with ourselves life begins to have a realness to it. A visceral, emotional, analytical, psychological conscious entity that enshrouds our whole existence.
This time alone or with a minimal amount of people is going to change us. We are going to view socializing and technology different. We are going to become more wise, more caring, and more intuitive. A specific irony will hit us: Being this isolated for so long on many different levels will blossom into a more connected and more grounded new earth when we emerge from the viral cave.
Although we are in a very vulnerable and scary beginning stage of this journey it will evolve into something greater with a higher energy than we have ever seen. I am excited to see what creations and new awarenesses become present from all of this. The mere reality that we are being forced to slow down is an unbelievable blessing. We have the time to feel more, think more, change more, breathe more, walk more, and observe more. These are all parts of life that we take for granted and when busy we dismiss them and think that we don’t have time for them. Not taking that time to voluntarily insert ways to pause in life and reflect are taking us away from ourselves. What it means to be truly human. Let’s all cherish ourselves right now because we have the time, and come out of the cave illuminated to the highest vibration.
Holistic Health Care is becoming more and more sought after in society today. We are entering a time in the world where impersonal experiences are becoming less and less valued. More interpersonal experiences where you are fully engaged are being more and more demanded upon.
The one industry that has failed in recent decades as being impersonal and manufactured has been the health care industry. Sure modern westernized medicine has most definitely given humanity a lot of security. From vaccination options to modernized surgical procedures with anesthesia, modern medicine most definitely has given us a new lease on life. Because of this though preventative and holistic health care has gone by the way side. Just because we have modern medicine that can literally keep almost anyone alive doesn't mean that the holistic approach to health care should be completely ignored.
It is easy to ignore a holistic approach to health because it does take a certain level of self awareness. Building that self awareness capacity takes work. Also all around us are short term gratification options where we can immediately enter an artificial blissful state. At any moment we can entertain ourselves on our phones, while being able to order almost any kind of food. We can do this at almost any given moment. We are waking up though to the fact that this type of lifestyle if done too often is self degrading and the only way out of it is making disciplined health conscious choices.
In the future more and more people will be turning towards taking matters into their own hands when it comes to health. The fact that we are able with our own power to prevent ourselves from going to the hospital because we have become “unhealthy’ based on lifestyle choices is profound. We have ultimate control when we are able to patiently sit with ourselves and gain more awareness eventually taking action to change our lives.
The days of having to spend countless amounts of energy, time, and money for monotonous doctor visits where the only help and advice that we are getting is to take some sort of pill are going to be a thing of the past. The days of being able to manage pain with advice and assistance from your personal trainer and or massage therapist are here, only having to visit your family doctor a few times throughout the year.
Health can be complicated and when crises hits drastic measures sometimes need to be taken. Crises though can be potentially significantly reduced when an implementation of consistent preventative health measures are taken. The catch is that it takes discipline, awareness, and a willingness to be honest with ourselves.