Ways to Celebrate EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week

At Massagetique, we believe in the importance of sharing the benefits of massage with the community. EveryBody Deserves a Massage week encourages massage therapists and bodyworkers across the country to come together and do just that. This recognition week was founded by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) in 1995 to help promote the importance of massage and bodywork within local communities.

Join the Massagetique team and others in recognizing EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week from July 15-21. We encourage you to share the benefits of massage with those around you during this week and take steps to make massage more accessible to everyone in your community.

You might do this by:

  • Teaching a class on massage
  • Giving a lecture about different types of massage
  • Hosting an event to demonstrate massage techniques that can be practiced at home as self-care
  • Volunteering your services or offering discounts
  • Creating a contest
  • Creating and sharing informational flyers. 

The Massagetique team has created images you can share on social media and elsewhere to help promote EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week. Feel free to save, download, and/or print the images below and use them in your marketing materials (click on an image to download the file).

Additionally, here are educational articles about massage you can share on your blog, social media platforms, or other outlets throughout the week:

Throughout the week, Massagetique will share massage resources on our website and social media platforms and highlight ways massage can promote wellness and help treat health conditions. Let us know how you intend to celebrate EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week in the comments below. Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #EveryBodyDeservesMassage.

5 Tips for Reducing Burnout in Massage Therapy

Caregiver burnout can result from job stress and can impact both physical and mental health and potentially your massage practice. These tips can help!

Burnout, an issue generally stemming from job-related stress, especially affects massage therapists and people in other health care professions. It is not something to ignore or let pass, as it can be accompanied by serious mental health issues like depression, isolation, and trauma. There’s no need to make drastic changes, but by shifting your focus at times and listening to your emotional and mental state, you can achieve more life balance and reduce the daily burnout you feel.

Aim for More Balance

Work-life balance means different things to different people–some might balance out their business by spending more time with a partner and children, while others might introduce a new hobby or learn a new skill to feel more balanced. One 2003 study, for example, demonstrated positive improvement in caregivers who began making music recreationally.

If you’ve been working nonstop, even a short vacation could create more harmony between your career and your personal life. When a vacation simply isn’t feasible, reconsider the hours you’re putting in at work. Evaluate whether they’re serving you well as a practitioner but also as a human who needs time to rest and recharge. If more and more evenings or weekends have become occupied with work, it might be time to reprioritize.

Boost Your Self-Care

Studies show health care workers are notorious for neglecting self-care. If your practice feels particularly rushed or hectic, you might benefit from allocating more time for your own care and well-being. Treating yourself to a spa day might not always be realistic, but simple activities like staying hydrated, stretching, taking short walks, or journaling, however briefly, can effectively help ease burnout.

Mindfulness activities have particularly positive effects on burnout and are a sustainable way of preventing burnout and incorporating a self-care routine. Meditation, mindful movement, and walking meditation do not require any props or extra preparation. What’s more, they can be done anywhere. If you’re new to meditation, try downloading a free app to facilitate the process.

Try New Things

An immense field, bodywork offers numerous professional opportunities that only require a few continuing education hours or workshops. If your practice starts to feel less fulfilling, consider looking into an adjunct endeavor.

After years of practicing Swedish massage, for example, you might be interested in incorporating a therapeutic rock treatment. Or perhaps circumstances in your personal life are drawing you toward mindfulness-based approaches or energy work, such as Jin Shin Do and reiki. If your office setting allows for it, you might consider purchasing a spa tub and offering some types of hydrotherapy.

Acquiring new skills can breathe new life into your massage therapy practice, attract and help you retain clients, and introduce you to different bodywork modalities. Your new approach might allow you to be more creative and attentive to your own needs, and you can feel good about having taken the time for discovery and self-improvement.

Switch Up Your Marketing Strategy

By marketing differently you can reach new audiences, learn new skills, and boost your practice in a way that fits you better. Advertise your services in a local gym, for instance, and brush up on what you know about sports massage to attract a new type of clientele. Alternatively, connect with your local hospice organization to offer your services. Even if your involvement is strictly voluntary, you might make connections that result in more clients.

You might also consider branching out in marketing through new types of social media. While unlikely to become your go-to strategy, image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest create a unique branding opportunity. Invest a bit of time into researching these avenues, following bodywork and health accounts, and posting some images of your office space, for starters.

Seek Your Own Therapy

Massage therapists are always advised to receive massage regularly, both to experience others’ techniques and for the same benefits their clients receive: lowered stress and anxiety, reduced muscle tension and fatigue, and increased serotonin and dopamine levels (to help counteract depression). Of all people, massage therapists know the many ways bodywork can improve multiple aspects of life, and they are uniquely positioned to receive various types of bodywork because of professional connections.

If you’re experiencing burnout in your business, emotional state, physical well-being, or mental health, you can begin addressing these areas by receiving massage treatment. In many cases, caregiver burnout or compassion fatigue should also be regarded as a serious issue worth addressing with a mental health professional.

Avoid the temptation to immediately dismiss burnout as a phase you will naturally work through. Though this may be the case, feelings associated with burnout may also be deeply seated in grief, trauma, or depression. Either way, consulting with a psychotherapist can help you identify the roots of those emotions and a path for moving forward.

Health care providers are particularly susceptible to caregiver burnout because of the extraordinary amount of time and attention they put into meeting others’ needs and a tendency to neglect their own. But burnout is not a death sentence for your career or livelihood. Once you pay attention to the exhaustion you are feeling, you can address it and begin moving past it.

Massage Therapy to Alleviate Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis, of which there are many subtypes, can cause pain and discomfort and impact quality of life. Learn how bodywork treatments can help.

Juvenile arthritis refers to the range of autoimmune or inflammatory conditions affecting children and adolescents under the age of 16. Currently, nearly 300,000 children in the United States experience some disease under the umbrella of juvenile arthritis, including juvenile lupus, Kawasaki disease, fibromyalgia, idiopathic arthritis, and others. As more information about these issues surfaces, evidence continues to support use of alternative therapies, such as massage, to address symptoms and improve quality of life for people affected.

Symptoms and Effects of Juvenile Arthritis

Depending on the diagnosis, different forms of juvenile arthritis (JA) might affect the joints, muscles, organs, connective tissue, and skin. JA can be very difficult to diagnose—there is no single exam or blood test that can reveal which type a person has. A doctor will likely recommend a specific test depending on a child’s symptoms.

Each of the various rheumatic conditions associated with JA will exhibit in different ways. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), the most common form, is called idiopathic because it has no known cause or predictable onset. Symptoms resemble those of arthritis often affecting older individuals: joint inflammation, changes in bone structure, and discomfort or pain.

JIA may be accompanied by eye inflammation (oligoarticular JIA), psoriasis on the skin surrounding the joints (juvenile psoriatic arthritis), fever and rash (systemic JIA), or other issues that indicate different forms of JA. Like JIA, Kawasaki disease involves inflammation of the joints but is also characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels and may lead to heart conditions. Lupus, though not common in children and adolescents, can affect skin, lungs, blood vessels, joints, brain, and kidneys, potentially wreaking havoc on nearly every organ system in the body.

No matter the way arthritis manifests, or the symptoms experienced, it can significantly impact a child’s adolescent years and the later life, as well as the lives of the child’s family and loved ones. Affected children may be more likely to miss school and decrease participation in sports or physical activities, which can compound problems since inactivity has been shown to worsen arthritis symptoms. They may also experience psychological and social issues such as depression, low self-esteem, or negatively impacted peer relationships.

Treatment Options for Children with Juvenile Arthritis

There is no known cure for JA, but remission is possible with early detection and proactive treatment methods. Researchers recommend as much exercise as the child’s ability allows, regular stretching, proper nutrition, physical therapy, and occupational therapies. In extreme cases, splints, orthotics, and surgery can help correct growth differences caused by JA.

Complementary therapies, including massage and other types of bodywork, have been proven effective for children and adolescents. In fact, arthritic people of any age can benefit from bodywork, as long as symptoms are not acute and do not present complications that preclude touch therapy.

Massage and Bodywork Therapies for JA

Children who received massage for just 15 minutes per day showed improvements in decreased pain related to arthritis. They also experienced lower stress and anxiety as a result of massage. In this study, parents administered the massage, so the therapy was cost-effective and efficient for families. A professional massage may be more thorough and comprehensive.

A bodywork practitioner may choose almost any modality to address JA, though most therapies are not indicated for direct local application. In other words, the therapist is not likely to massage the knuckles if a child has arthritis affecting the hands but will use a modality that supports the lymphatic and immune systems for greater overall comfort and joint decompression.

Various types of hydrotherapy, including both heat and cold therapy, can help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by arthritis. Hot compresses and ice packs can be applied directly to arthritic areas of the body, or individual body parts may be submerged in a contrast bath (alternately in hot and cold water) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Contraindications of Massage for JA

Massage or bodywork focusing on the specific area afflicted by arthritis can potentially increase pain or exacerbate symptoms during flare-ups and is not recommended. Individuals who have types of JA that affect the skin or cause irritation and inflammation should consider consulting their doctor before proceeding with bodywork treatments.

Beyond easing the pain and direct symptoms of JA, touch therapy and other forms of bodywork also offer benefit by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine–the chemicals that improve mood. Youth receiving massage for JA may experience greater happiness and quality of life as a result, and peer relationships and co-occurring mental health issues may improve.

References:

  1. Beck, M. F. (2011). Theory & practice of therapeutic massage (5th ed.), 119. Clifton Park, NY: Milady.
  2. Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (2005). Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(10), 1397-1413. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207450590956459
  3. Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Seligmen, S., Krasnegor, J., Sunshine, W., Rivas-Chacon, R., … & Kuhn, C. (1997). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: benefits from massage therapy. Journal of pediatric Psychology, 22(5), 607-617. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9383925?dopt=Abstract
  4. Moore, F. B. (1964). Manual of hydrotherapy and massage, 48, 50, 53. Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
  5. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis treatment. (2017). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis-jia/treatment.php
  6. Schanberg, L. E., Anthony, K. K., Gil, K. M., & Maurin, E. C. (2003). Daily pain and symptoms in children with polyarticular arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 48(5), 1390-1397. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.10986/full
  7. What is juvenile arthritis? (2017). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/juvenile-arthritis
  8. Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.), 145-147. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Inside Out: What Emotional Trauma Does to the Body

The body can be impacted greatly by emotional trauma, and vice versa. Learn how the effects of PTSD can be counteracted for mind-body wellness.

A good bodywork practitioner knows that health issues and pain are not just physical and mental health issues are not just psychological. For optimal health, the body and brain work in tandem to function properly and keep each other running smoothly. When we come into contact with something that endangers either side of that process, all systems are affected and must be treated to re-establish total body and mind wellness. For effective treatment, it helps to understand what happens in both body and mind when a traumatic incident occurs.

Enduring the Fight-or-Flight Response

When we’re met with a stressor–anything we perceive as a threat–our brains must choose to fight or flight? Sometimes we make this decision and move on so instantaneously we’re hardly able to register something was a threat. Other times this conundrum, known as the alarm phase, is so sustained the body has to make adjustments to accommodate it.

In this survival mode, the brain signals the body to use all energy and resources to resist the threat. Heart rate increases, cells use more energy, and there are changes in circulation. If this process lasts longer than a few hours and the threat is still present, the body can begin to shut down all reserves in order to protect itself.

The alarm phase of stress response teaches the brain to recognize and overcome similar threats in the future. But during a particularly stressful event—one categorized as trauma in the brain that could lead to posttraumatic stress—the brain might get stuck, logging its extreme trauma response as a default rather than one to file away. Next time it is presented with a threat, even if the threat is relatively harmless, the brain might use the same response. This is one possible indication of posttraumatic stress (PTSD).

Survival mode is not meant to be the body’s standard response, however. Such a reaction takes a toll on the nervous system and can lead to subsequent health issues. There is also evidence the brain may be damaged during these periods of intense stress response.

When Stress Becomes Trauma

In extreme circumstances, when a stressor lingers, is physically harmful, or causes an intense emotional reaction, the brain and body are likely to register it as trauma. After such an incident, one may experience posttraumatic stress, which can manifest in many ways:

  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • Depression
  • Mood issues, irritability, or anger problems
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Anxiety

Though these effects are considered largely psychological, each can have physical consequences. This means that while you may have addressed an issue like whiplash after a car accident by seeing a chiropractor and massage therapist, ensuing depression may disturb digestion and contribute to health problems.

The Physical Toll of Untreated Trauma

Some mental health aspects of PTSD affect the body in more abstract ways, while others have a more direct correlation with physical health. For example, when PTSD leads to altered eating habits, including binge eating or skipping meals, physical ailments can range from fatigue and malnutrition to cardiac issues.

Depression, which can occur on its own or as an aspect of posttraumatic stress, may manifest in feelings of loneliness or a tendency toward isolation. An individual with depression may find it difficult or impossible to leave the house or interact with strangers. As a result, they might not be motivated to seek health care, potentially prolonging illness.

Compromised mental health has been linked to general aches and malaise, acute pain, inflammatory issues, and more. When psychological issues are present, the immune system is more likely to fail, increasing the possibility of illness. If the source of trauma caused substantial physical injury, the body may be slow to heal or prone to infection if PTSD symptoms are complicating the recovery process.

Approaching the Treatment of PTSD

The far-reaching effects of mental health issues related to PTSD have helped psychotherapists and bodywork professionals alike understand more about the ways one can heal after trauma. More comprehensive treatment methods are being developed to help manage all aspects of PTSD.

The days of thinking about stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, and other mental health issues only as psychiatric diagnoses have passed. After all, we know the brain controls everything about how we function–whether it’s picking up a fork, catching a ball, or fleeing from a potential threat. When something happens to disrupt this healthy brain activity, the psychological damage has the potential to adversely affect not only thoughts and mental state, but also physical health.

The more we learn about the physical nature of PTSD and trauma symptoms, the sooner we can continue to promote whole-body, person-centered healing techniques that address issues beyond the psychological.

The more we learn about the physical nature of PTSD and trauma symptoms, the sooner we can continue to promote whole-body, person-centered healing techniques that address issues beyond the psychological. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease stress and release feel-good chemicals like serotonin and cortisol, counteracting the adverse effects of almost any mental health issue. Massage and bodywork are not meant to replace psychotherapy, but they can be effective complementary therapies. If you are experiencing PTSD or related mental health issues, consider seeking bodywork in addition to ongoing psychotherapeutic care.

References:

  1. Bremner, J. D. (2002). Does stress damage the brain?: Understanding trauma-related disorders from a mind-body perspective. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company.
  2. Dryden, T., & Fitch, P. (2007). Recovering body and soul from post-traumatic stress disorder. Massage Therapy Journal, 133-19. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/1817
  3. Fehrs, L. (2013, August 1). Muscle memory, trauma and massage therapy. Institute for Integrative Health Care. Retrieved from http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2013/08/muscle-memory-trauma-and-massage-therapy.html
  4. Gatchel, R. J. (2004). Comorbidity of chronic pain and mental health disorders: the biopsychosocial perspective. American Psychologist, 59(8), 795. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/59/8/795/
  5. Meeks, J. A. and Byrami, S. (2016). A systematic review of complimentary therapies to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress: Disorder in the aftermath of domestic abuse. Senior Honors Projects. 243. Retrieved from http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/honors201019/243
  6. Premkumar, K. (2012). Anatomy and physiology: The massage connection (3rd ed.), 328, 351-353. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Massage and Bodywork for the Alzheimer’s Patient

Massage and bodywork can have a positive impact on many individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and may also serve as self-care for caregivers.

Chances are you know someone who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. You may have even served as a caregiver in some capacity for a loved one with dementia. Currently, about 5.1 million Americans live with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. But with as many as four family caregivers looking after each person with the disease, it impacts more than just those who have been diagnosed.

The longer Alzheimer’s progresses, the more likely it is to affect one’s overall health and relationships with others. And while bodywork, like any other treatment currently available, is unlikely to reverse the course of Alzheimer’s or help a patient regain memory, it has the potential to significantly improve quality of life for anyone living with the disease.

How Does Alzheimer’s Affect the Body?

Alzheimer’s disease, or AD, is characterized by plaques and tangles of proteins on brain cells. These plaques cause cells to die and parts of the brain to atrophy. Cells become unable to communicate with each other, and this results in a loss of brain function. A person with AD is unable to process new information and access memories because the part of the brain associated with each of these tasks, the hippocampus, shrinks.

Initially, effects of AD may seem relatively innocent: minor lapses in short-term memory, brief periods of disorientation, and difficulty retaining new information. During these early stages, people with Alzheimer’s may be alert and emotionally positive. Later AD symptoms can be more severe and may include deeper confusion about events, changes in character and mood, more serious memory loss, and distrust of one’s family and caregiving team.

But while the most prevalent issues associated with Alzheimer’s are related to memory and brain function, cognitive degeneration can also have profound physical effects, including compromised ability to speak, swallow, and walk. People with AD who get disoriented or lost may be more likely to fall, and it is not uncommon for patients to have difficulty performing daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating.

How Can Bodywork Treatments Help Alzheimer’s Patients?

Most bodywork modalities are supportive for AD, depending on the client’s comfort level. Massage has been shown to improve overall quality of life, lessen agitation, contribute to better sense of orientation, and lead to more positive social interaction for those with AD.

Certain modalities have been shown to specifically target various symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

  • Therapeutic touch reduces agitated behavior such as pacing, wandering, and vocalization.
  • Similar to therapeutic touch, slow-stroke massage can reduce physical signs of agitation and ease AD patients who are resistant to care.
  • Reiki treatments can help reduce anxiety and depression in those with AD and dementia while also promoting relaxation and improving overall well-being.
  • Craniosacral therapy can reduce inflammation in the brain, which may help people with chronic migraines and poor sleep. In a TEDx Talk in 2016, Michael Morgan, LMT, CST-D asserts that a combination of craniosacral therapy, exercise, and modified diet may help AD patients regain memories and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. More research is needed to verify these benefits, however.
  • Multisensory treatment approaches like music and art therapies are not direct types of bodywork, but they can improve overall cognitive state and reduce anxiety and depression related to AD.
  • Other alternative therapies, such as light and dance therapies, can help AD patients able to participate by easing stress, anxiety, irritability, and emotional issues related to the disease.

In a more abstract way, massage and bodywork place an emphasis on person-centered treatment, which addresses all needs and contributes to more comprehensive care. When a person receives more than the standard attention to a specific issue, and when they are seen as a person instead of simply as a patient, greater healing can take place, and overall well-being is likely to improve.

It is worth noting that caregivers for those with AD—especially those who are family members or friends—can experience extreme stress and depression related to the time and emotional investment that goes into patient care. Anyone serving in this role may also benefit from receiving massage or another type of bodywork as self-care to relieve stress and symptoms of depression.

Contraindications for Massage as Treatment for Alzheimer’s

Some people with advanced AD may become agitated, hostile, or irritable, which can impact the extent to which they find massage treatments enjoyable or helpful. Other clients may not be able to communicate clearly because of verbal impairments associated with AD, which can impede the therapist’s ability to fully address their needs. Additionally, because many AD patients are elderly, they may have co-occurring health conditions that preclude massage as an effective treatment for any aspect of AD. As always, it is best to consult with a primary care provider before seeking any type of bodywork as support for someone with Alzheimer’s.

As the population of the United States ages, more and more people are predicted to start experiencing Alzheimer’s symptoms, which tend to start around age 65 and progress rapidly. Research continues to emerge regarding cures, preventative measures, and ways to improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s-related memory impairment. While many treatments and solutions are being explored, the massage and bodywork fields continue to offer promising results.

References:

  1. About Alzheimer’s disease: Statistics. (2016, January 28). Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Retrieved from https://www.alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers/statistics.html
  2. Allison, N. (1999). The illustrated encyclopedia of body-mind disciplines, 106, 356. New York City, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
  3. Hawranik, P., Johnston, P., & Deatrich, J. (2008). Therapeutic touch and agitation in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Western journal of nursing research, 30(4), 417-434. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0193945907305126
  4. Kontos, P. C. (2005). Embodied selfhood in Alzheimer’s disease: Rethinking person-centred care. Dementia, 4(4), 553-570. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1471301205058311
  5. Miesler, D. (2003). Massage and the Alzheimer’s patient. Massage Bodywork Magazine, December/January 2000. Retrieved from http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/275/Massage-and-the-Alzheimer%92s-Patient
  6. Morgan, M. (2016). 2 deaths, 1 disease. TEDx Talk. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSh4oR8xc0
  7. Ozdemir, L., & Akdemir, N. (2009). Effects of multisensory stimulation on cognition, depression and anxiety levels of mildly-affected Alzheimer’s patients. Journal of the neurological sciences, 283(1), 211-213. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022510X09004390
  8. Rowe, M., & Alfred, D. (1999). The effectiveness of slow-stroke massage. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 25(6), 22-34. Retrieved from http://www.healio.com/nursing/journals/jgn/1999-6-25-6/%7B80dc9bd2-e52d-4c1f-aadb-c37e2eaf6376%7D/the-effectiveness-of-slow-stroke-massage
  9. Salach, M. D. (2006). The effects of reiki, a complementary alternative medicine, on depression and anxiety in the Alzheimer’s and dementia population (doctoral dissertation, San Francisco State University). Retrieved from http://bodynsoulsynergy.com.au/PDF/ReikiPDF07.pdf
  10. Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.), 223-226. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  11. What is Alzheimer’s? (2017). Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp#symptoms
  12. Woods, D. L., & Dimond, M. (2002). The effect of therapeutic touch on agitated behavior and cortisol in persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Biological research for nursing, 4(2), 104-114. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1099800402238331