Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Myofascial Massage: Releasing Connective Tissues

myofascial massageMyofascial massage is a gentle massage modality that releases the connective tissue or fascia through gentle, sustained stretching and pressure. As the underlying fascia releases, muscles relax and mobility improves.

Myofascial massage is usually performed without creams or oils, or alternately, if the therapist has already applied lubricant, she may use the client’s bones for an anchor if she finds a restriction so that a stretch can be achieved. The stretching is usually comfortable and even relaxing. The results of this sustained stretching on the fascial structures provide pain relief that can be quite amazing considering the pressure is so gentle.

Fascia is the thin tissue that covers everything in your body and gives it structure. You’ve seen it between the skin and the flesh when you’ve skinned a chicken. Fascia covers your organs, your muscles and even the individual muscle fibers and cells. Fascia exists in a continuous sheet throughout the body so that a restriction in one part of the body can cause pain in another part of the body even if they seem to have no relation to each other. We call this referred pain.

When you are injured, the muscle fibers and the fascia become tight and restricted and may even stick to each other. Scar tissue may form as the fascial sheet thickens at the injury site and loses some of its elasticity. The gentle stretching action of myofascial massage can release this restriction, restore elasticity and return the muscles and organs to optimal functioning.

To discover the restrictions, the therapist will palpate the skin and underlying connective tissues to locate areas of adhesion and compromised movement. Then she will apply traction, stretching and twisting strokes to loosen the fascia. The movements are slow and deliberate and may last several minutes until the tissue relaxes. When this happens, the client often will feel a sudden sense of release. In fact, if the muscles are holding a great deal of tension, the release can be rather intense. The therapist may follow with Swedish or deep tissue massage to further release the muscles.

Two of the most famous myofascial release teachers in the United States are John Upledger and John Barnes. Upledger and Barnes believe muscles lock because of the stress people hold in their bodies and because of injury and scarring. They teach that myofascial release can release these blockages, realign scar tissue and improve range of motion. Other teachers include Ida Rolf and Tom Myers. Their techniques often go deeper over the course of time, and can be more painful. However, these techniques can quite literally reshape the structure of the body.

Incorporating myofascial techniques into your massage session can result in improved posture and flexibility as the fascial adhesions that constrict muscles relax and soreness dissipates.

One of the benefits of myofascial massage is that it is not painful, so it is a good choice for clients who bruise easily, have thinning skin or who suffer from fibromyalgia-like symptoms. Myofascial massage has also been shown to improve the symptoms of such ailments as migraine headaches, repetitive stress injuries, menstrual cramps, and muscle spasms.

Chances are your therapist is already using some myofascial techniques to your session. To find out more, please speak to your therapist.

Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Halting Heel Pain: Treating Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs

plantar fasciitisIf you’ve found yourself barely able to walk upon arising from bed or after sitting for a time because of pain in the heel that feels like walking on sharp stones, you may have plantar fasciitis or its more serious cousin, heel spurs.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain and affects almost two million people in the United States per year. It occurs when the connective tissue of the plantar ligament stretches irregularly and then tears. The result is inflammation in the long plantar ligament that transverses the bottom of the foot from toes to heel. The burning, stabbing or aching pain usually occurs at the attachment to the heel bone, called the calcaneus, and gets worse with both disuse or prolonged use as the ligament either relaxes or becomes overly stressed. You can reproduce the pain by dorsiflexing (pulling up) the toes.

The good news is that plantar fasciitis rarely requires surgery to correct. The bad news is that ligament tears heal slowly and that the situation that caused the initial tear, if continued or repeated, can slow down the healing process.

Improper gait and genetic foot problems like flat feet, very high arches, pronation and supination can cause plantar fasciitis as can certain repetitive activities. Athletes and folks taking up a new physical activity are particularly prone to plantar ligament tears. Proper exercise shoes and good form are a must to prevent injury. In fact, good shoes that support your feet are your number one defense. See a professional who can help you choose the best brand or insert for your particular gait. You will likely need to change the insert before the outer sole is worn out. Innersoles have a woefully short life in relation to their cost.

Age and age-related illness are also a factor in developing plantar fasciitis. Arthritis sufferers are prone to heel pain, and those with diabetes not only get plantar fasciitis more frequently but may not heal as quickly from micro-tears in the ligaments. Being overweight can also damage the plantar ligament, no matter what your age, and pregnant women are prone to the ailment both because of the weight-gain and because hormones during pregnancy cause the connective tissue to relax in preparation for the stretching of the pelvis during the birth process.

The first treatment for heel pain is rest, ice, and elevation. Many folks say rolling the foot across a plastic bottle filled with frozen water is a great relief. OTC pain relievers can also help. If you think your foot gear may be the cause, buy new, better supporting shoes. In fact, spending a little extra on good foot support now may prevent your ever getting plantar fasciitis. Ask anyone who suffers from it if good shoes are worth the money.

Massage can help stretch the plantar ligament, and your massage therapist has been trained to gently stretch the ligament without tearing it further. If your therapist can do Medicupping, that may help gently release the tendons. Many chiropractors can perform adjustments to the feet that relieve the pressure. Obviously, if first-aid treatments and manipulation by your massage therapist and chiropractor do not work, you need to see a doctor or podiatrist who may prescribe orthotics to take the pressure off the ligament. Failing that, they may prescribe corticosteroid injections or a new sonar treatment called extracorporeal shock wave therapy. The most extreme treatment is surgery.

Heel spurs are bony fragments that extend fromt he calcaneus into the soft tissue of the heel. They often occur when plantar fasciitis is untreated, causing prolonged pulling of the inflammed ligament on the bone. However, bone spurs can occur on their own. Early treatment is the same as for plantar fasciitis, but surgery is sometimes the only option to remove a bone spur.

Preventing plantar fasciitis in the first place should be a part of your self-care practice. First, keep your weight down to reduce tension on the plantar fascia. Second, wear shoes that cushion and support the heel, ball, and arch of your foot, and replace old-worn-out shoes that have lost their support as they may actually be the cause of the irregular plantar stretching and tears. You should wear shoes on hard surfaces rather than going barefoot or wearing cheap flip-flops. Watch repetitive activities and build up your endurance in new sports. Finally, stretch the calf muscles, your Achilles tendons and your feet regularly and before any exercise to keep them flexible and pain-free. Have your massage therapist work your feet and calves more fully if you feel a problem developing.

Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Massage Cupping: Using Reverse Pressure to Relieve Pain

therapist massage cupping a client
Massage Cupping uses reverse pressure to release adhesions and relieve pain.

Massage cupping is an exciting modality with a wide range of benefits.

If you get acupuncture, you’ve probably been cupped as a part of your Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment. Massage cupping is a bit different in that the vacuum in the cup is created with a pump rather than with fire. Likewise, the cup is moved around on the body instead of being parked for a long period of time as it is in TCM.

There are many benefits to cupping. The pressure on the tissues pulls them up rather than pressing them down toward the bone as in regular massage. This is called reverse pressure. Cupping clears stagnation, drains and moves lymph and other fluids, relieves inflammation, expels congestion, and sedates the nervous system. It enables the therapist to do deep work with less discomfort to the client.

Cupping is helpful for a variety of conditions, including fibromyalgia, neuralgia, sciatica, edema, respiratory congestion, headache, sluggish colon, anxiety, insomnia, and scarring, to name a few. It can usually be added to your normal massage with no additional cost.

On the other hand, massage cupping can be a stand-alone treatment and is especially popular when combined with aromatherapy in a treatment called the Aromatherapy Cocoon Bodywrap. When done in a series of eight treatments over four weeks, the Aromatherapy Cocoon Bodywrap has been helpful in treating smoking cessation and weight reduction. The oils chosen for the sessions are very specific and therapeutic in their effect on the body.

Another popular treatment is the facelift massage, which can be combined with the Bodywrap or with the Bellanina Honeylift product. The negative pressure on the face and neck can bring nourishing circulation to the skin surface, stimulate collagen and elastin production, smooth fine lines, release tight facial muscles, and drain stagnant lymph that causes puffiness. A similar therapy can help the sinuses to drain more effectively although this should not be done if there is active infection in the sinuses. However, clients should understand that this is a massage treatment, not a facial.

If you are interested in the benefits of massage cupping, please speak to your therapist. Call  Suzanne Eller at 828-310-0161.

Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Piriformis Pain: How can one little muscle cause so much trouble?

According to WebMD, “The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs – in short, in almost every motion of the hips and legs.”

Gray's Anatomy Piriformis

The piriformis is prone to trigger points, and if it becomes taut enough, it can press on the sciatic nerve, which usually runs underneath it but sometimes can run through it. Trigger points in the piriformis or an entrapped sciatic nerve can refer pain all the way down the leg. A tight piriformis may also torque the low back causing lumbar area pain as well. It’s a small muscle, but it can cause tremendous problems if it becomes taut or irritated.

Any number of things can cause the piriformis to become taut. Chief among these is sitting in one position for too long. If you have a job that requires sitting at a desk all day, chances are you know what a tight piriformis feels like. Likewise, activities that require climbing or repetitive motions like running, especially over uneven ground, can cause piriformis pain.

Massage is one of the best cures for piriformis pain, especially if you don’t wait until it becomes chronic. You can also use self-care strategies like rolling and pressing a tennis ball over the site or using a SacroWedgy®.

There a a number of good stretches for the piriformis as well. One is to lie on your back and to bend the knees. Cross the right leg over the left at the knee. Clasp your hands behind the bottom knee and pull both legs toward the chest. You should feel the stretch in the buttocks of the crossed leg. Repeat on the other side.

A variation of the above stretch is to sit in an chair, crossing your legs with one ankle over the knee of the other leg. Keeping your back straight, lean forward until you feel the stretch.

Another stretch is to kneel on the floor on hands and knees. Tuck the right knee under the body so that knee is in line with the left shoulder and straighten the left leg. Press the hips to the right until a gentle pull is felt in the right buttock. Repeat on the other side.

You don’t have to suffer with piriformis pain. Massage and self-care can keep you moving and help you avoid more serious problems like sciatic nerve entrapment.

Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Massage and Mental Health

woman getting massage
The skin is our largest sensory organ. Massage can create a sense of peace and well-being through the power of touch.

It is sometimes easy to emphasize the physical benefits of massage and forget the mental health benefits of regular bodywork. The physical benefits are more immediately recognizable, but the mental benefits can be more lasting.

Numerous clinical trials have evaluated the effects of massage on mental and emotional health, and the results are impressive. For example, studies indicate that massage and psychotherapy given to women suffering from postpartum depression had significantly greater improvement in both depression and anxiety than did groups who received only psychotherapy.
Similar results were found for individuals other than new mothers suffering from depression and anxiety. Other studies indicate that massage may help people who suffer from ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and bipolar disorder, to name a few.
Jacqueline Young, author of Complementary Medicine For Dummies, (London: Wiley Publishing, 2007) gives evidence for the efficacy of massage in treating those with eating disorders. She says more and more clinics treating anorexia and bulimia are finding that massage helps clients reduce anxiety about their appearance and improve their body image.
Massage reduces levels of stress hormones, especially cortisol (which, by the way, can make you fat!) It increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) and decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”). Improved parasympathetic response means greater availability of brain chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins (natural painkillers).
Another benefit of massage is to meet our need for safe, human touch. Human beings can literally die without human touch, and studies have shown the devastating lack of emotional development in babies who are not adequately held and cuddled. Still, we live in a world where those who touch inappropriately have caused all of us to be a little suspect of too much touching. When there is a lack of touch in a person’s life, massage can fill the void and create peace-of-mind. Overall well-being is enhanced.
Massage provides the following mental health benefits:
  • Increases mental alertness and improves concentration and memory.
  • Reduces anxiety and increases sense of overall well-being and self-confidence.
  • Reduces stress hormone levels and increases production of mood-enhancing brain chemicals.
  • Provides an overall calming effect and lowers irritability.
  • Lowers brain wave activity to the alpha state, which provides a feeling of relaxation and increases creativity and organizational ability.
  • Calms the nervous system and improves synaptic response.
  • Relieves fatigue and renews energy levels.
There is also a relationship between mental health and physical ailments. Many of us carry stress in our bodies. Idioms like “he’s a pain in my neck” and “my job’s a headache” reflect physical responses to stress-causing people and situations. Massage can help relieve the stress before it manifests as a physical symptom.
Massage & Bodywork, Self-Care & Finding True Nature, Tapestry Life Resource

Headaches and Massage

I received an email this week from a new client who has been suffering from a headache lasting a week. I remembered reading a series in Massage and Bodywork Magazine, a publication of the Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals (AMBP)), by Til Luchau. I pulled them out and reread them. Then I did a little more research online.

Luchau divides headaches into two broad categories: tension and musculoskeletal headaches in one category and migraine and other vascular headaches in the other. I’d add a third category: sinus headache. TMJ headaches might be a fourth category, and the general protocols for TMJ jaw pain often relieve the headaches as well. However, these headaches might be better categorized as a subset of TMJ dysfunction.

Luchau provides a chart for musculoskeletal/tension and migraine/vascular symptoms in his first article.  My other research differs a bit on some points, but is in general consistent with Luchau. Understanding the symptoms is important because slightly different massage techniques are used for each type of headache. The image below offers a capsule version with hunger and eyestrain headaches omitted in the discussion that follows.

Types of headaches
Common types of headaches

Tension headaches often arise when the muscles on the shoulders, back of the neck,  under the occiput (posterior inferior cranium), and scalp become tight and pull on the scalp and the lining (dura mater) under the skull. Clenching the teeth is also a tension response and can cause headache even if  TMJ dysfunction is not present.

Usually, tension headaches occur on both sides of the head, but if the musculature on one side of the body is tighter than the other, the pain may be worse on that side.  It may also be worse in the back of the head, but depending on which muscles are hypertonic, it can be located almost anywhere. The pain is often a dull ache, but it may be more severe. It sometimes feels like squeezing or tightness in the head. Physical activity usually does not exacerbate it.

According to Luchau, the hands-on goal of working with tension headaches is to reduce the myofascial tension.

Sinus headaches are caused when the mucous membranes that line the four air-filled sinus cavities become irritated and swollen. The sinuses produce more mucus as a response, and the mucus that normally serves to moisten the air and soothe the sinuses becomes thicker and adds congestion that further blocks the sinus passages often creating a vacuum within them.

The pain is usually felt as pressure and/or tenderness  just behind the eyes, cheeks, and forehead or near the upper teeth or temple regions. The pain may worsen if you lie down although lying down may reduce the pain of tension and migraine headaches. Bending over usually makes sinus headache worse. Your face may be noticeably swollen from a sinus headache.

If the cause of a sinus headache is infection, massage is contraindicated, and you should see a doctor immediately. Otherwise, massage with a hands-on goal of stimulating lymphatic drainage and relieving blocks caused by swelling and congestion may help.

Migraines are believed to be caused when the blood vessels inside the head dilate. Many migraine remedies include vasoconstrictors for this reason. However, according to Lachau, new research may point to another cause.

“Recent research suggests that migraines start as waves of nerve cell hyperactivity sweeping across the brain; the spreading waves in turn activate pain-signaling neurons in the brain stem. The root cause of these neuro-electrical ‘brain storms’ of abnormally increased activity is unknown. The hyperactivity is followed by inhibited nerve cell excitability; the cells seem to be worn out, and this exhaustion may explain difficulty speaking or thinking clearly after migraines” (Luchau, Sept./Oct. 2010).

The pounding or throbbing, sometimes stabbing, pain of a migraine is usually focused on one side of the head. It is frequently preceded by an “aura” or visual disturbance and is accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light, sound, and odors. Physical activity can make it worse.

Most migraine sufferers have ideas about the triggers that cause their headaches and the symptoms that signal one is starting. They may also know that the massage protocols that work on tensions headaches often have little lasting effect on a migraine. Luchau’s hands-on goal of migraine massage is to reduce cranial compression, and I would agree that even if the migraine is initially triggered by muscular tension or sinus blockage, by the time it is a full-blown migraine, work on the cranium and the cranial fascia is necessary to relieve it.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what kind of headache it is. Generally, a look at the location and quality of the pain and at the response to activity and sensory input can  help identify the type of headache you have. However, if you have a sudden, severe headache with no history of migraine headache or a dull headache that will not respond to treatment, you need to see your doctor immediately. Headaches can be a symptom of severe and even life-threatening conditions, stroke for example, and should not be ignored.

sternocleidomastoid trigger points

The massage protocol for a tension headache will include release of tight neck, shoulder and chest muscles and general relaxation strokes. Luchau’s first article emphasized release of the superficial and deep fascia of the scalp and a concentration of the suboccipital regions. I would add trigger point therapy of specific muscles likely to contribute to headache pain. Indeed, numerous research studies have cited the efficacy of massage, including specific pain-relieving modalities and more general relaxation type massage which tends to improve overall structural alignment and release endorphins into the body, as greatly relieving symptoms of tension headaches and even preventing headache recurrence when massage is received regularly.

Sinus massage with use of lymphatic drainage therapy is effective for relieving the pressure in the sinuses. (See my recent newsletter article on Sinus Massage.) The Lymph Drainage Therapy technique is slow and precise, and it uses feather-light strokes to move the lymph out of the head and into the nodes. It may also include the use of aromatherapy to further open the sinus passages.

Migraine headaches respond well to Craniosacral Therapy, especially intraoral work. CST allows the therapist to decompress the bones of the cranium and balance the blood flow. It also allows for structural realignment.  Luchau’s technique uses a little more pressure than CST, but it is similar. (Trigger point therapy is often not as effective on migraines and on tension headaches.)

According to Luchau, the effect of this cranial work may be to reduce the pressure on the trigeminal nerve or to affect the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which may be responsible for the “brainstorm” of  nerve cell hyperactivity mentioned in the quote above  (Luchau, Nov./Dec. 2010).

Regular massage may also increase serotonin levels in migraine sufferers and thus prevent recurrence. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and low serotonin levels have been indicated in migraine sufferers. Low serotonin also causes depression, seasonal affective disorder, addictions and eating disorders.

Two other modalities that seem to reduce headache pain are Myofascial Release and Reiki. Myofascial Release used gentle, light traction and stretching to release the fascia, which is a single sheath of connective tissue that covers the muscles, bones, organs, and even the cells (everything!) inside your body. Craniosacral therapy and lymph drainage therapy always incorporate myofascial release as do other modalities, but it can be used as a “stand-alone” modality. Reiki is one of a number of energy modalities that can be used to work on the subtle energy body. In many cases, this gentle therapy alone can relieve the headache.

Massage has been proven in study after study to decrease the severity and frequency of headaches. When you see your therapist, be sure to tell her the following to help her determine the best therapy protocol for your specific needs:

  • Where your pain is located
  • How long you’ve had the pain and if it comes and goes
  • How often you have headaches in general
  • If you’ve seen a physician and if so, what is the diagnosis
  • What precipitated the headache if you know
  • What is the quality of the pain (dull, throbbing, stabbing)
  • How movement and sensory stimulus affect the pain levels
  • What you have done to relieve it, such as taking pain relievers or using cold compresses, before coming to her

Headaches do not have to be a fact of life. Self-care and regular massage can be of great help in preventing them and relieving them when they do occur.

Institute for Integrative Health Studies. (2005, July 21). The dual concept massage approach to headaches. Retrieved from

Luchau, T. (2010, July/August). Working with headaches, part 2. Massage and Bodywork, XXV(IV), 111.  Retrieved from

Luchau, T. (2010, September/October). Working with headaches, part 2. Massage and Bodywork, XXV(V), 111.  Retrieved from
Luchau, T. (2010, November/December) Working with headaches, part 3. Massage and Bodywork, XXV(VI), 111-112.  Retrieved from
Ulrich, C. (2010). Holding headaches at bay. Retrieved from
Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Massage and Managing Diabetes

foot massage
Foot care is especially important for the diabetic. Have your therapist look for cracks and ulcerations and be aware of too deep pressure you might not feel. Image by HealingDream at Click link at end of article to see HealingDream's portfolio.

One of my personal goals is to learn something new about massage and bodywork each day. Sometimes that is a new technique, and sometimes it is new information about a pathology or condition presented by one of my clients.

One of my regular, weekly clients has mild Type II diabetes.  She also suffers from being overweight and from arthritis, and although very active in her life, her range of motion is impaired by her ailments. Massage and regular chiropractic appointments make her feel better and help improve her ability to do the things she enjoys with greater ease of movement.

I’ve been trying to discover the reason for her toe cramps for a while now. Other massage therapists have suggested that these might be caused by mineral deficiencies (potassium, magnesium, and calcium primarily), dehydration or by the massage releasing a muscle and thus causing the antagonist areas go into spasm. My client has tried many of the suggested remedies, plus homeopathic quinine and switching to lite potassium chloride salt. She even put a cork under her pillow although that folk remedy didn’t work.

My client’s regular doctor suggested, however, that the cramps might be related to her diabetes. That led me to do more research, and I’ve learned a good bit in the last week about diabetes and massage.

First, I learned that if  the cramping is related to the diabetes, it may be coming from the drug she is using to control her sugar levels.  The cramping may also be a complication of Type II diabetes itself though it is not as well-known as neuropathy or even the skin hardening that may precede neuropathy. Ulcerated skin is one of the worst of these related complications, so while I advise using the mineral supplements with the doctor’s approval, I also want my client to be vigilant for any decrease in feeling in her feet and toes.

I also learned some general things about diabetes and massage. In general, massage is beneficial for people who have diabetes. Massage helps the client relax and release endorphins which in turn helps blood sugar levels balance to healthy levels. Similarly, massage improves circulation, which in turn improves cellular insulin uptake. Finally, regular massage improves the elasticity of the connective tissue and makes movement easier.

This last benefit got me thinking about how often the superficial tissue of my diabetic clients seems stretched unusually taut and how often even light pressure seems to cause an unusual pain response. So I began to do more digging. What I discovered is that increased blood sugars cause connective tissues to thicken and even harden. The is true of the superficial fascia and also of the deeper fascia that surrounds the muscles, muscle fibers and the organs themselves. The thickening also causes swelling because lymph flow is restricted and further inhibits the range of motion. The skin itself can become dry, calloused and cracked. No wonder my client hurts!

I always work slowly, releasing the superficial connective tissue before working individual muscles. This is the way I was taught and is also an intuitive response as I palpate the tissues. Working slowly and broadly with long strokes, myofascial stretching and energy techniques first relaxes and releases the dense connective tissue before I begin using more specific deep tissue pressure and trigger point therapy on individual muscles.

I remember this same client telling me that her previous massage therapist often made her hurt for several days before she felt better. I suspect the MT went into the trigger points too quickly and caused damage to the connective tissue by not warming and melting it first. Now that I know about the effect of diabetes on the cellular density of the tissue, I will be even more careful to warm the tissue and proceed slowly to the deeper layers.

Another thing I learned is both a benefit and a caution. Massage can cause the blood sugar levels to drop as much as 20-40 points. Overall, this is a good thing, but if the client’s blood sugar levels drop too much while on the table or just after the massage, it could cause hypoglycemia and be dangerous. That defeats all the potential benefits of the relaxing massage.

Symptoms of a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels include:

  • Excessive sweating or clammy skin
  • Faintness or headache
  • Inability to awaken
  • Certain “spaced-out” tendencies, such as slow speech or clumsiness
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Rapid heartbeat

That’s why I went out to the store and bought some fruit juice boxes to have on hand in case I have a client on the table whose sugar drops too much. However, if you are diabetic and receive massage, you should have a snack in your purse or car and always tell the therapist if you need to stop the massage and take care of your blood sugar needs.  I assure you, the therapist will be thankful. You also need to check your blood sugar levels for several hours after you leave the massage office because the effects of blood sugar lowering can continue for several hours.

Be sure to update your therapist about what medications you are taking, especially if you are taking insulin shots. The injection sites are particularly sensitive to massage, and although the tissue there may feel especially dense (causing the therapist to work there more), studies have shown that massage on injection sites can increase the rate at which the insulin enters the blood stream and further lower your blood sugar.

Finally, be sure you eat before the massage and that you are hydrated both before and after the massage. If you feel unusual, after the massage, don’t drive until you feel normal.

The beneficial effects of massage for diabetics seem to outweigh the contraindications. However, it is a must that you and your massage therapist communicate effectively. Share you needs and concerns, and realize that  honest feedback allows you and your massage therapist to learn from each other and develop a supportive rapport.

Image: healingdream /

Continuing Education, Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource

Incorporating Lomi Lomi into Massage Sessions

I just returned from the AMTA-NC conference in Cary, NC, and spent two days learning techniques of Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage from Brenda L. Griffith.

orchid at Daniel Stowe Botanical GardensIt was an amazing two days, not only because I got to network with other massage therapists, which is one of the benefits of belonging to AMTA, but because the techniques I learned easily incorporate themselves into my massage protocol. In fact, I’ve used some piece of what I learned in every massage that I’ve given over the last week.

Griffith, who is a former AMTA national president, studied with Aunty Margaret Machado in Hawaii in 1994 and 1995, and has taught classes in Lomi Lomi all over the United States. We spent most of the two days actually giving or receiving the work. The Lomi Lomi strokes are long and fluid and have been said to resemble a dance because the therapist moves her whole body to apply rather deep and yet soothing pressure through gravity and leverage.

Lomi Lomi is intuitive work. At the beginning of the session, the therapist sets her intention to help the client receive the greatest benefit and allow his/her body to balance and heal. Then using rhythmic, fluid motions with the forearms and the fleshy parts of the hands rather than relying on fingers and thumbs, the therapist uses long, full-body strokes to release blocked energy and tissues. Lomi Lomi feels wonderful to recieve, and as a therpist, I thouroughly enjoy giving the massage to others. It is almost as relaxing to give a Lomi Lomi massage as to receive one.

“Touch the body with a loving touch.
If your hands are gentle and loving,
Your patient will feel the sincerity of your heart.
His soul will reach out to yours,
And the Lord’s healing will flow through you both.”
~Aunty Margaret

Some of you will remember that a few years ago, I took a class in Huna from Angela Sherrill. Huna is the philosophy that underpins Lomi Lomi. Huna teaches that everything in the universe seeks harmony and love. Is it any surpise that one of the alternate names for Lomi Lomi is “loving hands massage”?  With long, continuous, flowing strokes over the client’s body, Lomi Lomi’s goal is to nurture the client and help him/her relax and simply be. What could be more loving?

Each of my clients who has experienced Lomi Lomi since I returned from Cary has loved it. Two of the regulars commented, “That’s new, isn’t it? I like it.”

For that reason alone, I appreciate the work. Moreover, I really like the emphasis on resonating with the client from the beginning to the end of the massage and relying on my intuitive sense of what the client needs to tell me what to do next. I also like the gentleness of the work and its profound ablility affect the tissues deeply without causing pain. Finally, I like that it follows the philosophy of Huna, which emphasizes love, tolerance, acceptance, respect, and compassion for all beings; Huna has an energy work component that I’ve been using for some time now.

This week I am planning to do my first full Lomi Lomi massage since the class rather than just incorporting pieces of it into the massages I am already giving. I’ll switch from cream to oil, and I’ll try to use most of the techniques I learned. I am looking forward to that. However, I am sure I’ll continue to use parts of Lomi Lomi, just as my teacher Brenda L. Griffith does, in nearly every massage I give.

Continuing Education, Tapestry Life Resource

Usui Reiki II Class Offered

Reiki kanji and hands
Reiki is a powerful energy healing modality that anyone can learn.

Now that I’ve received my NCBTMB Approved Provider number (451254-10), I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching an Usui Reiki II class on August 7, 2010, at the Wepner Wellness Center, LLC, in Newton, from 9 AM – 6 PM for 8 CE hours for licensed massage and bodyworkers. However, you can take the class whether or not you are a LMBT if you have the Usui Reiki I prerequisite.

The cost is $150 if you register by July 23, and $200 thereafter. 

Reiki is the first modality I learned. In fact, I probably would never have considered massage school if it hadn’t been for Reiki. One of the students whom I know will be attending this Reiki II class just told me today that she is enrolling in massage school in the fall. Including myself, she is the third person I know who came to massage and bodywork by way of Reiki.

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is an energy modality that was developed during the last century by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese healer. (The history of Reiki is readily available online and is both interesting and controversial.) The word itself means “universal life energy”, and Reiki is administered by “laying-on hands”. It is a simple and powerful technique that can be learned by anyone. It is passed from teacher to student by attunement. 

The thing that continues to excite me about Reiki is that first of all, it works, and secondly, that experiments in quantum physics are proving this beyond doubt. I use Reiki nearly every day on myself, my clents, and even my dog and my plants. Furthermore, what Dr. Usui, other Eastern healers and their patients, and countless Reiki practitioners have proven by experience is now being proven in Western laboratories through double-blind studies.

One of the things that quantum physicists have proven is the existance of the Zero-Point Field, which is a substructure of energetic frequency (sometimes wave and sometimes particle) that underpins the universe. The Zero-Point Field also functions as a recording medium of everything, providing a means for everything to communicate with everything else. When you consider that on a subatomic level, cells and DNA also communicate through frequencies unrelated to the physical nervous system and that they also communicate directly with the Zero-Point Field, you have the basis for how Reiki works. 

Reiki makes use of the energy from the Zero-Point Field to balance the Human Energy Field. The attunements that Reiki healers receive (and that students will receive in my class) set intentions that, incredibly, are part of the record of the Zero-Point Field and serve to insure that Reiki does no harm to the healer or the client. It seems that the more people who hold and intention over time, the greater the probablility that the intention becomes “fixed” and affects the physical universe from its quantum origin.

Reiki kanji
The Reiki kanji: the top symbol is "rei" or "universal", and the bottom symbol is "ki" or "life force"."

If this seems to resonate with your own understanding of how things work and you’d like to take the class, please contact me through my website or my email link. 

The Usui Reiki II course outline includes:

  • Atunement to the Usui Reiki II symbols
  • Meanings and uses if the Usui Reiki II symbols
  • Self-healing teachniques
  • Working with clients and distance healing
  • Building a Reiki practice
  • Ethical considerations
  • Hands-on practice
  • Certificate of attendance
Massage & Bodywork, Tapestry Life Resource


Image from Free Fractals

During our February couples massage special, I met a client who has since become a colleague and a friend.

During our first massage session, she was interested in my Theta Healing work, which I was happy to talk about since I had just finished the Advanced Theta Healing class in Greensboro. She said it nicely complemented her work with Matrix Energetics and suggested we do a phone session trade. I eagerly agreed as it gave me an opportunity to practice my skills and receive work myself. This marked the beginning of a ride I am finding immensely exciting.

My friend is correct that the Theta Healing work and the Matrix Energetics work have some similarities. In our first and second sessions, we have both cleared some limiting belief patterns she using Matrix Energetics with me and I using Theta Healing with her. We’ve also read the first books in the other’s disciplinemdash; I read Matrix Energetics by Richard Bartlett, and she read Theta Healing by Vianna Stibal so we both have an idea about what the other is referencing.

I have enjoyed Bartlett’s decidedly more scientific approach to the idea of healing in an instant. He uses ideas developed by quantum physicists to explain his work. He provides the “brain candy” I need to understand is happening when seeming miracles happen. My friend has enjoyed Stibal’s more spiritual style and finds structure in the explanation of the seven planes. We plan to continue our phone sessions.

The work has sparked me to read more about quantum physics and the inquiry into consciousness, the effect of the observer on the outcome, and the Zero-point field of random, conscious energy that may hold the key to destroy the notion that there is no God. At the very least, it confirms that we are all connected and that whatever we do affects everything else.

I began reading The Field, by Lynn McTaggart just after Bartlett’s first book. McTaggart is a journalist reporting on the scientific research into the mysterious field and its implications for us as healers and as humans living on this planet. If you like this sort of scientific confirmation of what the mystics has said since the dawn of time, I urge you to read it and then comment.

This is not the place for me to try to explain Zero-point theory though perhaps I will talk about it more in later blogs. For now, others can explain the theory more concisely and eloquently. What I want to say here is that what we think when we interact with another matters. If I, as a massage therapist, touch a client with the intention of helping him/her out of pain, that result is more likely to occur than if I give the massage thinking about the fee I will collect at the end of it. My intention influences outcome.

I am excited by the implications of this work and my research. This I have felt were true are being proven true in quantum physics. The science has far-ranging spiritual implications, and I am excited to learn more.