Gua Sha: The Ultimate Pre-Wedding Prep?

To any of you who have been there or are currently there: planning a wedding can be stressful. But it’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life! And to that, we say – go for a massage.

Of course! Massages are relaxing, soothing, and ace at relieving stress (it’s a fact!).

But for your big day not just any massage will do – but we know just the one that will.

Here at Massagetique we are certain that a Gua Sha is the ultimate pre-wedding prep activity, and we are going to prove it.

First Things First: What Is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a traditional form of massage therapy originating in China. The practice of Gua Sha involves stroking one’s skin with a stiff instrument, typically made from stone, jade, bone, or horn. In fact, Gua Sha roughly translates into “scraping away fever”.

Traditionally, this method has been used to treat a variety of conditions.

The science behind this form of massage therapy is that it increases blood flow beneath the surface of the skin, which in itself can lead to a variety of healing affects within the body. Most noticeably, it has anti-inflammatory and immune boosting capabilities that are able to counteract a number of symptoms of illnesses.

How Will Gua Sha Benefit My Pre-Wedding Routine?

The Purpose of A Pre-Wedding Routine

You want to look your best and feel your best on your wedding day – that is why many brides develop a “pre-wedding routine”.

Of course, many brides include activities that will help them be as radiant as can be on their big day, such as spa time, manicure sessions, hair touch-ups, and special skin care routines – hey, a girl has to treat herself once in awhile, right?

But you shouldn’t forget to give a little TLC to both your physical and mental health before the big day as well. It’s not all about looks, is it?

Ensuring you get enough rest, take some time to de-stress, clear your mind, and fight off any sniffles, aches, or pains that may be coming your way is also important if you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day to the fullest – and a massage is a great way to do all of that at once.

Known Benefits of Gua Sha

Gua Sha therapy is amazing at combating a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Stiffness
  • Fever and chills
  • Neck and back pain
  • Flu symptoms
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Nausea, and
  • Asthma

And these are only some examples!

Planning a wedding is stressful, and stress can take a hard toll on your body, even physically – causing tenseness, headaches, indigestion, and more.

Luckily for you, massages, while being great for targeting these physical symptoms, are also known to be good for relieving stress.

If you can simultaneously rid yourself of stress and combat your aches and pains at the same time, why wouldn’t you?

You Have Options

Everyone has a different budget, different schedule, and different preferences in general – luckily for you this amazing type of massage is something you can get done professionally or perform yourself at home. The perfect pre-wedding massage for anyone and everyone!

Seeing A Professional

If you want the full treatment, you should easily be able to find a local certified practitioner.

A typical Gua Sha session will only last 10 or so minutes – great for your busy pre-wedding schedule!

Going DIY

If you are on a tighter budget or just love DIY, you can also perform a Gua Sha massage for yourself from the comfort of your home.

You simply need the required “tool” – you can purchase an actual Gua Sha tool online or from specialty stores or you can use something from home, such as a spoon or the lid of a jar (just remember to disinfect them!).

Get Your Gua Sha On Today

And feel brand new for your big day! Refresh yourself both mentally and physically by adding the Gua Sha massage to your pre-wedding routine – you won’t regret it!

References

  1. https://www.massagetique.com/types/gua-sha/
  2. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/pre-wedding-skin-care-prep
  3. https://elementsmassage.com/blog/massage-as-part-of-your-wedding-day-preparation
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body
  5. https://greatist.com/happiness/can-massages-actually-reduce-stress

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.

Massage Therapy and Your Recovery Treatment Plan

The physical healing applications of massage and bodywork are well known. Less known are the ways in which massage therapy can facilitate emotional healing.

Mental health treatment and healing take time, and often the process incorporates many modalities, not all of which are directly in the field of psychotherapy. During National Recovery Month, recognized in September, we take the opportunity to shine a light on less mainstream treatment options for recovery from trauma, addiction, and other mental health issues.

Massage therapy and other forms of bodywork are becoming more widely known for their ability to address concerns like anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia. But their use related to conditions that might call for extended treatment or rehabilitation has not been widely publicized. Further research supports incorporating bodywork into a mental health healing plan with a comprehensive psychotherapy program.

Before beginning any type of bodywork to address psychological concerns, it is best to meet with a mental health professional who will be overseeing the recovery process. Depending on the issue and the person’s history, bodywork may not be the most appropriate complementary therapy, or it may be advisable to wait until the individual is further into the recovery process to explore massage.

Massage Therapy and Addiction Recovery

Research shows bodywork helps reduce physical and emotional discomfort during the addiction recovery process in many ways. Some rehabilitation facilities and residential treatment centers employ massage therapists to aid clients on-site. Further, people who are trying to quit smoking can use self-massage to help reduce nicotine cravings. Co-occurring issues in the smoking cessation process, especially anxiety and mood issues, are also eased by touch therapy and massage.

Withdrawal can be an extremely painful experience, especially for people who have developed an opioid addiction after being prescribed the drugs for physical injury or pain. Massage can speed the detoxification process, lessen the risk of secondary health problems, and reduce the need for tranquilizers or other drugs to calm a client.

Bodywork also reduces the likelihood of relapse. The Mayo Clinic offers a program for pain management and reduction which takes a “biopsychosocial” approach to weaning opioid users off the medication and replacing it with holistic therapy options, including massage. The results have been very positive, significantly lessening clients’ needs for pain medication afterward.

Individuals currently using alcohol or other drugs, and those whose systems still contain them, are not advised to receive massage. In such instances it is likely the liver is already processing the substances and can become overwhelmed by toxins as bodywork begins to take effect.

Using Bodywork After Abuse or Trauma

A common effect of experiencing any type of physical trauma, including childhood abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault, among others, is an aversion to touch. Studies support the use of many different types of bodywork and holistic treatments for people who are comfortable or can work up to it. Even no-contact modalities like reiki, aromatherapy, and some types of hydrotherapy can be beneficial additions to a comprehensive mental health healing plan after abuse or trauma.

Though bodywork does have a direct positive correlation with improved mood and emotional stability, researchers say the more immediate effect of massage is a deeper connection with the self. After trauma, someone might begin dissociating or develop thought patterns of self-loathing and rejection of the self. Massage and bodywork can help bring awareness back to the body and one’s connection with it in constructive, nonjudgmental ways.

By addressing the physiological impacts after trauma, professional bodywork can help remove some of the emotional barriers to healing, such as pain and discomfort related to touch or another person’s proximity. In this way the therapy makes it possible for more psychological and emotional healing to take place and for clients to restore self-acceptance.

Eating Disorder Recovery and Massage

Common eating issues like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating can pose a number of health risks and may even be life-threatening. Treatment facilities and programs focus on helping someone ease back into a lifestyle that supports a healthy relationship between food and one’s body.

These changes may be minor at first but can still be extremely taxing on people whose systems are adjusting to eating in a different way. In some cases, eating issues lead to cardiovascular weakness or circulatory problems, and bodywork is not advisable if either condition is present. However, for anyone not experiencing these serious side effects, massage can be helpful in the early stages of recovery by improving digestion while the body heals.

A key part of moving past bulimia, bingeing, or anorexia is developing more positive body image and self-regard. Though much of this work is psychological, bodywork can be one factor that helps encourage better self-esteem. Studies show people are more able to accept themselves after receiving massage and experiencing the positive effects of increased serotonin and dopamine. In other words, when the body feels good, it’s easier to feel good about the body. With effective psychotherapy, bodywork can provide unexpected relief during the recovery process and offer hope for people in recovery and their families.

References:

  1. Allison, N. (1999). The illustrated encyclopedia of body-mind disciplines, 163-165. New York City, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
  2. Andrews, M. (2017). Holistic therapy programs may help pain sufferers ditch opioids. National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/29/546145817/holistic-therapy-programs-may-help-pain-sufferers-ditch-opioids
  3. Beck, M. F. (2011). Theory & practice of therapeutic massage (5th ed.), 277. Clifton Park, NY: Milady.
  4. 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
  5. Hart, S., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Nearing, G., Shaw, S., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (2001). Anorexia nervosa symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. Eating Disorders, 9(4), 289-299. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/106402601753454868
  6. Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., & Hart, S. (1999). Smoking cravings are reduced by self-massage. Preventive Medicine, 28(1), 28-32. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743598903723
  7. 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
  8. Price, C. (2005). Body-oriented therapy in recovery from child sexual abuse: An efficacy study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 11(5), 46. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1933482
  9. Reader, M., Young, R., & Connor, J. P. (2005). Massage therapy improves the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 11(2), 311-313. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/acm.2005.11.311
  10. Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.), 269-270. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  11. Ziegler, P. P. (2005). Addiction and the treatment of pain. Substance Use & Misuse, 40(13-14), 1945-1954. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826080500294841

Post-Massage Stretching Techniques To Enhance Your Treatment

Just as with physical activity, stretching is often recommended after massage. Learn how taking time to stretch can help preserve the effects of massage.

If you regularly engage in physical activity or exercise of any duration or intensity, you’ve probably been advised to stretch before and after. Incorporating stretching into a regular warm-up routine prior to exercising helps reduce the risk of tearing, straining, or otherwise injuring muscles and joints. It also helps muscles cool down after physical activity, which can guard against stiffness and soreness later.

Stretching after exercise, in a way, helps preserve the effects of exercise by preventing muscles from seizing up and losing their strength and elasticity. Similarly, stretching helps preserve the effects of massage–including relaxation and flexibility. Though athletes and others who lead highly active lives may stand to benefit most from stretching after bodywork, anyone can enhance the effects of a treatment by stretching. Consult with your massage therapist first to see whether they recommend specific stretches after considering your personal health profile.

Why Stretch after Your Massage?

Deep massage and exercise can affect the muscles in similar ways. Massage increases blood flow and circulation and can create friction in the tissues like vigorous movement does. During massage tissues and muscles are pulled away from one another, which creates the “loose” feeling you might have after a treatment. You might also feel taller, because massage helps counteract the daily compression and gravitational pull we experience.

Stretching after a treatment can keep joints mobile, maintain the looseness in muscles and tissues, and improve flexibility. It will also increase your tolerance for stretching–the more you do any stretch, the easier it becomes over time. Wise massage therapists also stretch before and after giving a massage to optimize body mechanics during the treatment and reduce their own risk of injury, strain, and soreness.

Simple Post-Massage Stretching at Home

Your routine will vary depending on your body’s limitations, your massage therapist’s guidelines, and your own goals. Keep movements slow, maintain a steady breathing pattern, and do not hesitate to modify any stretch for greater comfort. Most stretches are designed to be performed alone, though you can also call upon a friend or partner to assist if you would like help balancing, deepening the stretch, or creating resistance to build strength.

  • Standing arm pull + bend: Stand with good spine alignment (hips over ankles with relaxed knees, tailbone relaxed, shoulders over hips, and ears over shoulders). Stretch your arms overhead and alternate reaching the fingertips of each hand up even higher. Keeping your arms stretched above your head, lean side to side. You should feel the stretch in your ribs and oblique muscles. To deepen this stretch, grasp and pull your right wrist as you bend to the left, and pull on your left arm as you bend to the right.
  • Forward fold: Slowly bend at the waist, keeping your shoulders and arms relaxed. Rather than exerting pressure to touch your toes or the floor, simply let your upper body dangle in place and let gravity work to decompress your spine. You can sway slowly from side to side to help release tension. Your chin should drop to your chest so your neck isn’t working to hold your head. When you return to standing, do so very slowly and keep your knees bent. Lead this movement with your hips, so that your shoulders and head are the last thing to raise and stack on top of your spine.
  • Knee hold: While lying on your back, bring one knee to your chest and hold it in place with clasped hands. Switch knees after 30-60 seconds. This alone is a significant stretch for many people; to deepen it you might press your knee into your palms to create resistance. For other variations, take your knee out to the side, away from your body (hip opener), or cross it over your other leg (twist).
  • Cat – cow: On all fours, make sure your back is parallel to the floor as if you’re forming a table. As you inhale, sink your back toward the floor, stretching your tailbone and forehead up toward the sky. Exhale and curve your spine, folding your nose toward your knees. Keep your palms and knees on the floor the entire time, and repeat using your breath as a guide.

Check out the included YouTube videos for more pointers on stretching. If you would like to continue searching for or creating a different custom stretching routine, focus on low-impact movements that are not limited by clothing, space, or time. Tailor your routine to your needs and preferences, taking into account any recommendations from your massage therapist, current pain or injury you’re experiencing, and where you will be doing your stretching.

Precautions for Stretching Exercises

Never push yourself to a greater level of movement than is comfortable. Your range of motion will increase naturally over time, and you won’t do your body any favors by rushing that process. If something causes pain, it’s best to stop attempting that particular stretch and ask your massage therapist for further pointers.

These stretches are best used with massage therapy. While any stretch is likely to prove beneficial for you in some way, pair these with bodywork treatment to get the best of all worlds and start feeling better all around.

References:

  1. Bandy, W. D., & Irion, J. M. (1994). The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Physical Therapy, 74(9), 845-850. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article-abstract/74/9/845/2729345
  2. Boston, G. (2014). Massage, foam rolling and stretching: A recipe for muscle recovery. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/massage-foam-rolling-and-stretching-a-recipe-for-muscle-recovery/2014/07/15/a0d7519a-0907-11e4-bbf1-cc51275e7f8f_story.html?utm_term=.53136b804b54
  3. Herbert, R. (2012). Health check: do you need to stretch before and after exercise? The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/health-check-do-you-need-to-stretch-before-and-after-exercise-46197
  4. Joke, K., Nelson Arnold, G., Carol, E., & Winchester Jason, B. (2007). Chronic static stretching improves exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39(10), 1825-1831. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arnold_Nelson/publication/5936445_Chronic_Static_Stretching_Improves_Exercise_Performance/links/0912f50b4b9d12dad4000000.pdf
  5. Magnusson, S. P., Simonsen, E. B., Aagaard, P., Sørensen, H., & Kjaer, M. (1996). A mechanism for altered flexibility in human skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology, 497(1), 291-298. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8951730
  6. Weerapong, P., Hume, P. A., & Kolt, G. S. (2005). The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention. Sports medicine, 35(3), 235-256. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200535030-00004
  7. Why stretch after massage. (2015). A Healing Touch Massage and Reiki. Retrieved from https://icmassage.net/why-stretch-after-massage

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.