Is Massage Cupping Right for You?

In 2016, some Olympic athletes, primarily Michael Phelps, brought cupping to the attention of millions of people.  Athletes proudly sported red, bruised-looking circles, evidence of cupping massage.   It became a greatly requested technique and massage therapists everywhere rushed to train in massage cupping in order to be able to offer this modality to their clients.

Massage cupping is not new to the massage industry; the exact origin is unknown and it is considered to be an ancient Chinese therapy.  There are written records dating back to 28 AD and there is a traditional Chinese saying which indicated “acupuncture and cupping, more than half the ills cured”.

The lack of movement of fluids through the body is considered in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to be the root cause of pain and other health issues.  Cupping is intended to get fluids moving through the body.  It lifts and separates layers allowing fluids to begin flowing more freely.

So exactly what is massage cupping?

Massage cupping is a form of vacuum therapy.  There are different types of massage cupping, such as fire cupping, wet cupping or dynamic cupping, to name a few.  One website lists up to 10 different types of cupping therapy techniques (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411014000509).

The type I would like to discuss today is massage cupping or dynamic cupping.  It is also sometimes referred to as gliding.

The object of cupping is to draw more blood to the surface of the skin.  The intended effect is get fluids moving through the body.  It lifts and separates layers allowing fluids to begin flowing more freely. 

This is accomplished by placing massage cups on the body and pulling the air out with a hand operated or machine pump.  This suction on the body’s surface creates a vacuum, which pulls the layers of skin and fascia up into the cup.  The suction reaches deep in the soft tissue and attachments. By pulling those layers up and into the cup, it can increase blood and lymphatic circulation systemically and to the local area, relaxing muscle tissue and support, drawing stagnation and toxins out of the body and releasing a myriad of pain causing factors.  The cups are then gently glided along the body.  They can also be left in a particular tight spot if needed, no more than 3 minutes, to achieve these same benefits. 

The purpose of cupping is promote health and healing by loosening soft tissue and connective tissue, scarring and adhesions, moving stagnation and increasing lymphatic flow and circulation.

Cupping will turn the skin red with strong movements, indicating that circulation has been brought to the surface.  It also helps to move lymph fluid through the body more effectively, bolstering and strengthening the immune system.  The lymphatic system can more readily eliminate toxins and inflammation from the body once it pulled to the surface of the skin.

Loosening tight and painful muscles which promote healing and relaxation is another benefit of cupping.  Cupping is also believed to help to soften scar tissues by making them more flexible and pliable, reducing pain that can be caused when the tissue is stiff after surgery.

Another purported benefit of cupping: it stimulates the nerves in the skin, which has a calming effect on the nervous system.

Cupping may also be beneficial to those suffering from respiratory ailments such as colds, asthma, allergies, or bronchitis.

So is cupping right for you?

If you have tight or hardened muscles, pain and restriction of movement, scar tissue, edema, restricted lymphatic flow and circulation, inflammation of joints and tissue, or trigger points, cupping is indicated as a potential therapy for you.

Other conditions that respond to massage cupping bodywork therapy are fibromyalgia, bursitis, tendonitis, other inflammatory conditions, sluggish colon, IBS, sciatica, insomnia, anxiety, congestion, cellulite, migraines and headaches, TMJ dysfunction, and plantar fasciitis.

I believe that massage cupping is a safe effective treatment that is good for most. 

Before I trained in the ACE massage cupping technique, a technique that was developed by Anita Shannon, (who grew up in Cleveland, fun fact), I was worried it would be painful and I would have these huge round red, looking bruises all over my body.  I learned during my training that those marks are not considered bruises but discolorations.

The ACE massage cupping technique rarely leaves discolorations on the skin, which is referred to as a “cup kiss” or a “doo-hickey”.  However, in TCM the marks that are commonly left are the desired result.  If a discoloration appears during an ACE massage cupping treatment, it’s an added bonus indicating the release of intense stagnation (body fluids and toxins) in the area.  This is not a bruise and will dissipate anywhere between a few hours and a few days.

Many people have reported that they descended into a profound state of relaxation after a cupping session and some have even reported that the experience stayed with them longer than most treatments. 

But is massage cupping right for you?  I don’t know.  You will have to experience it for yourself to make that assessment.  Just let me know when you are ready to try it.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” –Vincent van Gogh

 

How Often Should I Get A Massage?

How often should I get a massage?

There are a lot of questions I get asked before, during and after a massage.  But the most common one is, “How often should I get a massage?

This is a difficult question to answer because the best response varies from individual to individual. Before you or I can answer that question, we need to ask another question, “Why are you getting a massage in the first place?  For everyone the answer is different.   Is it for overall wellness? Stress relief?  Are you an athlete looking to maintain or enhance performance? Do you exercise regularly and want to get the most out of your workout?  Or do you have an injury or chronic condition that could benefit from massage?  

If you are looking to receive massage for overall wellness you probably want to aim for a frequency of about once or twice a month. This allows people in generally good health to receive all the health benefits, and allows each massage to build upon the last so that you are not essentially starting over from scratch each time.

If your answer to the question is for stress relief, it has been proven in multiple studies* that one of the benefits of massage is help in combating stress.  Massage has also been proven to help with anxiety and insomnia related to stress.  If you are going through a particularly stressful situation or leading a high stress lifestyle you should aim to get a massage every one to two weeks.

 Athletics have another answer to the question.  Massage is a necessary support mechanism for athletes to maintain muscle health and flexibility. If you are heavily involved in sports, you should have a massage as often as two to three times per week during periods of intense training and less often—perhaps once or twice a month—during the off-season. Massage has been proven to help athletes in reducing muscle tension and to help athletes monitor muscle tone.  In addition athletic massage promotes relaxation, increases range of motion, improves soft tissue function, decreases muscle stiffness and fatigue after exercise, improves exercise performance, decreases delayed onset muscle soreness, reduces swelling, reduces breathing pattern disorders, and enhances athletic performance**.   A massage helps athletes reach peak physical fitness while giving some protection from injury.

 If you exercise regularly you may want to consider following the athlete off-season schedule and get a massage once or twice a month.  A massage provides all the same benefits listed above for athletes to those maintaining a fitness regimen.  By combining your exercise routine with massage therapy, you will be able to train longer and harder and make the most of your workout. 

 A massage for the treatment of a chronic condition such as migraines, neck aches and backaches is one you'll need to receive one more frequently to see relief.  It is recommended to start off with twice weekly massages for the first four to six weeks, and then gradually increase the time between sessions as symptoms improve. While chronic conditions are generally not solved in a single session, most can be well managed by regular, effective massages.  The bottom line is that people who wish to treat specific medical conditions will need to have massages more frequently than people who want massages strictly for enjoyment and relaxation.  

 During times of increased stress and pain associated with physical and mental conditions, you may want to schedule therapy more often. If you know you have an increase in your daily stressors heading your way or you have an event such as a big move, a new job, or a wedding approaching, scheduling regular massages will help you stay ahead of the tension buildup.  If you are training for a marathon or a long bike race you will want to consider getting a massage more often to help in the training.

 So as you can see there is no set formula for massage therapy frequency.  It varies and it depends on you and your lifestyle.  I believe that you know your body better than anyone.  If you listen to yourself and ask yourself, why I am getting a massage to begin with, I believe you will know the answer. I can provide a guideline but ultimately, you know the answer.  I do, however, definitely recommend that you receive regular massage at least every four to six weeks.  To quote Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  It is also my opinion your health and well-being are worth at least an hour once per month on a massage table.   

Take time and invest in your health.

Namaste

Marlene

Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.  It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you. – Robin S. Sharma

*https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/07/massage-therapy

** https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-for-Those-Who-Exercise.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Staying on track

Staying on Track

Well here we are.  Several months into the New Year and I am still struggling with my new habits.  Some have been easy and some just don’t seem to be coming along as I imagined they would.  Some days it has been super easy to do the things I wanted to change and others not so much.  When I get busy, I tend to fall back to my old ways even though I know that doing things the new way, continuing to create my new habit is a better way.  I have trouble staying on track.

So I have to ask myself, “What is it you want to do?  MUCH more importantly, what is it you want to get done?” 

I have to remind myself of my goals.  I have to revisit why I wanted this change in the first place.  I need to reaffirm my goal or habit. Is this change aligning with my overall vision and values? What is it that I want to get done?  I want more movement, more business organization and more self-care with regular massages.

I have to look at my goals and make sure they are in line with one another.  Do I have goals that conflict with each other?  If I have the goal of taking more time for myself and resting more it might not line up with the goal of exercising more.  You could be crushing one goal and not making any progress on the other if they don’t align with one another. Maybe one could be used as a reward when the other is achieved?  For me, I have the goal of more movement.  I am trying to achieve 10,000 steps/5 days a week. I also have the goal of more self-care with my regular massages.  Those could be considered conflicting.  So I use the massage as a reward when I have achieved the 10,000 steps/5 days a week.  I consider this a win/win for me.   The organization goal is within itself and pretty much non-existence for me currently.

Also track your progress.  I write my progress down every day.  Having that visual really helps me.  I can see how far I have come.  I can appreciate the progress and celebrate the change. I am doing well so far on the steps.  I review my progress everyday and now I am trying to bust the 10,000 steps.  I haven’t set a new goal yet but I will soon.  I am still working on creating the habit of achieving the steps every day.  The regular massages I have moved to the reward category and are not really consistent as of yet but I am still aiming in that direction.  It is very satisfying when I go knowing I earned it by sticking to my step plan.

I also have accountability built into this.  I am blogging every month to you the reader about habits and changes.  I want to show you progress.  I also have my loving husband.  I try to beat his steps every day.  He is much better about exercise than I am so when I beat his number, I take it as a victory, even though it is not a competition. Also, who wants to get a massage from a therapist who doesn’t practice what she preaches.  How can I tell you why you should do it, if I am not doing it?  I must be the believer first.

I also try to surround myself with people who are supportive of my goals and habits.  I want people who are going to go for a walk with me instead of wanting to sit down and chat.  I want people around me who encourage the positive changes in me.  I want people who hold similar values as me.  I want people in my life that like me are on a journey to be a better version of their selves as well.

And last is handling the setbacks.  Developing new habits hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be.  And that is okay.  I am a work in progress.  I give myself permission to not be on top of everything all the time.  I also acknowledge that the next day I will work a little harder to make progress in changing my habit.  A setback is not a reason to stop.  It is a reason to review the habit and modify it if necessary.  I use it a tool to learn from.  I am still working on the organization habit.  I will adopt a better habit for it; I just have been working on the step one first.

So how are you doing on your habits?  Are you getting those massages regularly?

Creating a massage habit is best thing I have ever done.  Even though I am using it as a reward I am getting those massages regularly now and it feels wonderful.  I am so happy I hit the goal of the steps for the week and can relax with massage knowing how much it will help me.

Did you know that the effects of a massage are cumulative?  That’s right!

A study conducted at Cedars Sinai Medical Center shows that the benefits of massage are sustained and cumulative with repeated massage therapy sessions.

"Study researchers, led by Mark Hyman Rapaport, examined the biological effects of repeated Swedish Massage Therapy and light touch intervention. In a prior study, the researchers found that healthy people who undergo a single session of Swedish Massage experience measureable changes in their body’s immune and endocrine response.

"We expanded the study to show the effects of repeated massage because we believed the frequency of massage, or the interval between massages, may have different biological and psychological effects than a single session," explains Rapaport, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine."

To read the full article, visit:

http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/08/rapaport_frequent_massage/campus.html

Massage also helps to get my stress levels under control.  Regular massage has been proved time and again to help with stress.  And for those of you who know me, I have had just a little of that this year.

Massage gives me a sense of perspective and clarity.  I find this emotional balance beneficial in starting the next day refreshed with resolution and determination to achieve my goals.  Also, if I am trying to think things out in my head, the down time, the quiet and relaxation brings solutions to me.

There are still many things that a massage habit can do for you but we will address those in the near future.  Just remember you still have time to start your habits.  Habits and resolutions can be started anytime.  It doesn’t have to start on January 1.   And this is a perfect opportunity to stay on track with existing healthy habits.  You can always pick up where you left off.    Join me on this journey.    

And as always,

Namaste

 

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”  2 Chronicles 15:7

“A powerful way to stay on track and in the right frame of mind is to count your wins, however small each day.  Even the smallest of wins, when written down will help you recognize the progress you are making.”  Warren Buffett

 

Start where you are

How are you doing on those new habits? 

I have started some new things and it looks as though those things are becoming a habit and I still have plenty of other things I need to start, which leads me to this blog topic.

Start where you are!

It’s a phrase that runs through my head from time to time.

Why?

I often want to change things in my life.  I want new habits.  I want a new routine.  I want to exercise but don’t want to put the time in to do it.  I want my office and desk to be organized and neat but don’t want to take a few minutes every day to make that happen. 

I have had in the past a pretty inflexible routine in the mornings.  I would wake up, medicine for me and then for my fur-baby Lilly.  Start coffee, sit down and check my social media.  I literally could not start day until I knew what all my friends had posted after I had retired for the evening.  Some days I would sit in my recliner with my coffee for nearly two hours after waking up avidly reading everything that had been posted.  I knew this was a recipe for disaster but I loved the laziness of it.  I knew deep down that the time would be better spent cleaning off my desk or just walking on the treadmill but I was a creature to that bad habit.

Then one morning I saw a meme that stated, “One day or day one.” It was though someone had taken the blinders from my eyes.  I cogitated on that phrase for a few days.  I kept thinking about it.  I have to start somewhere, right?  So why not start where I was.  Any movement would be a step in the right direction. 

I had been thinking about starting an exercise program once again. (I believe this one would be number 200,501 that I started in my lifetime).  And oddly enough that phrase popped up again on my social media and in my head.  

I bargained with myself to get started.  I would walk/run on the treadmill while watching TV.  I would exercise until I had at least 10,000 steps. I would be killing two birds with one stone so to speak.  I would start on Monday, the beginning of the week.  This time I was going to do it.

Monday came and went.  I didn’t start.  I made excuses.  I needed new shoes.  There was nothing I wanted to watch to motivate me into my TV time. I would start next Monday.  It was close to the end of the month so I would start at the beginning of the month.  The excuse list goes on and on. I tried to rationalize it every way possible.  But the fact is you have to take the first step to create any habit.

So, I took a deep breath and I went to the running store for new shoes.  I purchased a step counter.  Again, I had a renewed sense of purpose.

At 5:00 am the next morning which happened to be a Friday in the middle of the month, after medicine for myself and Lilly, instead of sitting down to catch up on facebook, I put on my ridiculously expensive shoes and reacquainted myself with my treadmill.  I turned the TV on and off I went.  I thought the world was coming to an end.  This was it.  The “big one” was coming to take me home.  But it didn’t.  I survived. It was hard but I was at day one. 

The next morning at 5:00 am it was a little harder.  I told myself, I can quit at any time.  No one is making me do this.  I am not accountable to anyone but myself.  But then another voice inside my head said, “Do something today your future self will thank you for tomorrow.  Create that positive habit, one step at a time.”

I really had to say that phrase nearly every morning.  My mantra was I can do this.  And I did.

It has been nearly six weeks now since that “day one” and now I don’t dread it.  I am actually starting to look forward to it (that could be an exaggeration) but it is the new routine, my new habit.  I often achieve way more than 10,000 steps.

One of the positives from exercise first thing in the morning is it is over with for the day.  Done. Finished.  Not dreading it all day and not coming up with excuses as to why I can’t exercise after work. 

How does this apply to massage?  Start where you are.  It’s okay if you have never had a massage before. Start now.  Its okay to ask questions (if fact, I encourage it).  Start a dialogue with your therapist.   It’s okay to have expectations that someday you won’t hurt.  Start a treatment plan that includes massage. 

Massage can help many things.  I intend to explain that in later blog posts but for now, start where you are.

I started where I was.  I took my totally sedentary lifestyle and starting moving it to an active lifestyle.  I get regular massages.  Now I need to work on getting started on new habits for my desk and office.

Where are you on your new habits?  Will you start where you are?  I did and it has been great.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. “ – C.S. Lewis

New Year's resolutions

How are those New Year Resolutions going?  Have you abandoned them already or have they become habits?

My New Year is off to a rough start and I didn’t make resolutions.  I made a promise to adopt habits.  I want to improve my health and fitness as well as some new productivity habits for the business. 

Last year I loaded my online scheduler app to my phone.  After every massage, when someone rebooked, I consciously reminded myself to schedule through the app.  This small habit changed my stress level.   Prior to loading the app, I would put it on my calendar then have to come home and get online and schedule it through the on line scheduler.  Often times, someone would have booked online and now the appointment I had promised someone was on longer available.  Or I would forget to do it each night and then schedule two people for the same time.  I had lots of errors, mistakes and stress.  But by making this change in the way I did things, creating a habit, I have eliminated most of this problem. 

This is why I am talking about habits instead of resolutions.

A habit is an action you do automatically in response to your environment.  Webster’s defines habit as an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

A resolution is defined as the act of determining.

Studies indicate that it takes anywhere from 21 days to 66 days to form new habits.  But as with everything it is not that simple. 

First you have to identify your goal.  You have to set a tangible goal.  As with my example above, I wanted to eliminate the extra step in coming home and scheduling and the potential scheduling conflicts.  Goals could be doing paperwork consistently and in a timely manner so that it does not take a day to complete or making better choices when it comes to food so that you are reducing calories or exercising regularly or regular massage sessions.

Next you need to create environmental triggers.  Paperwork trigger could be instead of piling it up, setting aside 20 minutes each morning or evening and tackling the paperwork.  When offered a sweet, choose a fruit instead.  Instead of watching television you go for a walk first.  Instead of thinking about scheduling your massage appointment, you do it and then rescheduling before leaving massage office.  This connects the action you want to adopt with activities you already do regularly.

And last rewards.  Don’t motivate yourself with rewards.  Use them to help you enjoy your habits.  Rewards when used properly help to create habits.  They need to be large enough to create good feelings that you associate with the desired action.  Such as after finishing the paperwork each day you remember that you now won’t have to dedicate a day of leisure to the activity.  You are free to plan a day of fun for the day you would have spent tackling paperwork.  You have chosen to have a salad instead of carbohydrates and after the meal you check how much better you feel immediately.  Now when offered birthday cake, you can indulge in a small helping knowing you are making better choices every day and the occasional will not be your downfall.  After the massage, the feeling of relaxation and the better sleep you have.   You will be investing an hour in yourself care. 

So with all of this information, I am resolving to create better habits in my life and business.  I am a little late this year but it is never too late to get started on bettering yourself.  Join me.  We can hold each other accountable.

 

Namaste

 

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. - Aristotle