Posts Tagged Tense Muscles

Massage With A ‘Happy Ending’

While I was reading about somebody’s experience with ‘massage with a happy ending’ the other day, I instantly thought about one of my clients a few years back.  As you probably can imagine, as professional massage therapists, we run into these situations sometimes.  When I do, I usually deal with it with humor and refer them to the ‘Yellow Pages.’   🙂

Since I make house visits to pretty much regular clients, I hardly run into these requests anymore, but naturally, I used to from time to time in my early years, and I remember specifically one client, B., who came to town almost every week for about six months or so, while he was expanding his car business here.  The concierge called me initially after he had asked her for a massage therapist who would come to the hotel.  So this is how we initially met.  B. was a nice older guy, always a gentleman, and we ended up having really nice conversations from time to time.  He seemed to always want to know what I was thinking about certain issues and over time, we established quite a nice massage therapist/client relationship.  But we had to get past one issue first.

When I went for the first appointment, he was quite the gentleman as I said, never did or said anything wrong.  While putting my table together, I noticed that he had two hundred dollar bills laying on the table, but I didn’t pay much attention to it as he had paid me already.  So, when I came back next time, it had slipped my mind until I noticed two hundred dollar bills laying there again.  Here also, B. never said or did anything to indicate that he wanted a massage with a ‘happy ending.’  But it was clear to me that that’s what the generous ‘tip’ was intended for.  Even though he told me every time how good he felt and how much he enjoyed the massage, maybe he wanted to enjoy it a little more …..   :-).

Now, while I was driving to my next appointment, I was thinking about how to best handle the situation.  As he was a very nice person, I wanted to keep him as a client as long as he came to town, so I didn’t want to embarrass him.  On the other hand, I wanted to make absolutely sure that he understood that I was a professional massage therapist and therefore sexual favors were not included (he should have known that by then, but then again, he was a man, so he tried …..  🙂 ).

Anyway, as I saw the money on the table again next time I saw him, I told him about one of my clients who had made advances on several occasions and was looking for more than a massage, and continued to do so, even after I had made clear to him that that was a non-starter.  ‘So I had to let him go as a client, because he just didn’t want to take ‘no’ for an answer and the situation had become too uncomfortable,’ I said to B., looking straight into his eyes.  And I know he got the message without me saying a word directly to him or embarrassing him.  How do I know?

Well, no two hundred dollar bills on the table when I saw him the next time.   🙂

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The Connection: Mind, Body and Soul

Sometimes, when giving somebody with very tense neck and shoulder muscles a massage, I joke around, telling them that I can see names of people engraved in those tense muscles, and that usually serves as an icebreaker or provides for a light moment.  Of course, there is some truth to it.  Because body and mind are interconnected, stress of any kind (involving people and/or circumstances), especially over an extended period of time, can influence our overall health tremendously in a negative way.  Just think about various statistics showing upward of 80% of health problems being stress related.  Imagine by how much that number can be reduced once we know how to decrease stress in our lives and discover ways to deal with stress that will work for us!

You will find various suggestions and tools on that subject when navigating through my website   www.FitwithAndrea.com.   Try out the approaches appealing to you and use the method(s) of stress relief that works for you.  The key to achieving and then maintaining good health is a comprehensive approach.  It includes healthy lifestyle choices, a healthy diet, self-responsibility for your wellness, regular physical activity, and a positive mental attitude and mindset.

Research has shown that negative emotions of fear, frustration, blame, hate and anger cause disorder in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and can have a negative effect on your immune system.  On the other hand, your immune system can receive a boost and the efficiency of your heart can be increased by positive emotions of joy, appreciation, care, compassion and love.  On matters of the heart, studies have shown that in general, being in a loving relationship of any kind, especially in happy marriages, can help your heart and your overall health.  However, beware that the opposite can be true for negative and toxic relationships.

I believe the following shows the connection between mind, body and soul perfectly.  One of my first massage clients was a sixty-something, very nice gentleman to whom I gave massages on a regular basis.  I sometimes joked with him about his neck and shoulder muscles being like a “brick wall.”  After the massage, his muscles were relaxed and he felt good and was in excellent spirits.  However, when I saw him the next time, his muscles again were like a “brick wall.”  I knew from talking to him that he was retired and his personal life seemed to be okay.  So I had no idea why his muscles stayed pretty much tense most of the time, to the point where he almost couldn’t move his neck from one side to another.  Naturally, I knew that there had to be a reason for that.

And then, one day he opened up to me, telling me how he was still angry at his parents (who were deceased) for him not having had a happy childhood and always feeling like they preferred his brother over him.  When I listened to him, I could hear his anger in his voice and realized that he was still blaming his dead parents for how he felt and probably for most everything that went wrong in his life.  I thought that he most likely had never been able to enjoy life to the fullest, because he ended up blaming his parents for everything that went wrong, and therefore hardly took responsibility and didn’t feel the need to change things himself, because it was his parents’ fault.

Now, this man carried that blame with him his entire life.  And it showed in his tense neck and shoulder muscles.  After hearing his story, I paused for a moment, and then suggested to him that in order to get to a better and more balanced place, he needed to let go of these negative feelings and forgive everybody involved:  his parents, his brother and finally himself.  I told him that if I was in a situation like that, I would seek counseling.  After that we parted and I didn’t see him for some time.  But one day, out of the blue, he called to make an appointment and when working on his neck and shoulders, I noticed how much more relaxed his muscles were.  I was about to make a comment about it when he told me, “You know, I took your suggestion and talked to a counselor and I’m feeling so much better now.”

He didn’t have to tell me at all; his body had told me already.

I lost him as a regular client, because from that time on he got massages more infrequently–as he called it:  for maintenance and preventive health care only, but not out of necessity, as before.

Somehow, I felt happy losing him as a “regular” client.   🙂

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De-Stress Your Life

If you’re like me, you feel a little stressed out lately.  Even though I de-stressed and simplified my life several years ago, and as a massage therapist don’t let stress overtake my life, there are times when it can be a little challenging.  We cannot avoid stress completely in our lives, but it is important for us to find ways to deal with it more effectively as stress can be major factor in upward of 80% of illnesses.  The following are simple suggestions which may help you manage stress a little better.  For more information, please visit my website  www.FitwithAndrea.com

1.  CREATE A NEAT AND POSITIVE LIVING SPACE

Fill your home with positive energy to feel comfortable when spending time there.  You can create a “feel good atmosphere” with very little effort:  simplify and de-clutter.  Get rid of “stuff” you don’t need, especially those things with the sole purpose of collecting dust.  Add color, plants, candles, beautiful lighting, peaceful music in the background, scents if you like, and keep it generally clean and organized.  By the way:  people who visit will also appreciate the positive energy coming from your home and will see it for what it is–a reflection of you!

2.  MAKE APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF

Make regular appointments with yourself.  Exercise, get a manicure, meet with a friend for lunch, visit an art gallery, read a book, take a yoga class ….. and keep the appointments!

3.  FIND A WAY OF RELAXATION THAT WORKS FOR YOU

There are many different ways you can relax.  Try them out and see what works for you:  yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, getting a massage, taking a walk.  It doesn’t matter which one you settle on.  Each will help you relax.  Pick one you feel comfortable with and practice it regularly.  Ideally set aside some time for relaxation every day, and put it on your schedule!

4.  PLAN AHEAD

You don’t have to be obsessive about it, but some planning will help you keep the stress level down.  Write down and plan for important things that have to be accomplished the following day or week.  Also, plan your meals and prepare them ahead of time whenever you can.  Then you have a good breakfast, even if you get up a little late; a healthy lunch, so you can also take a walk during your lunch break; and a nice dinner you can enjoy with your family, even if you had to work a little late.

5.  HAVE FUN!

Make time for fun things.  It’s mandatory!  Take a bike ride, play in the park, go to the zoo, take a trip, have a party for no reason at all.  Enjoy life, it pays great dividends!  By the way:  nobody will remember whether your kitchen floor was mopped on the last Sunday in July of last year but you (and your family) will have wonderful memories of a visit to the park, enjoying a picnic and playing around that afternoon.

6.  SLEEP WELL

How well you sleep at night can make the difference in how stress-free and productive you will be the next day.  Find out what ensures you to have a good night’s sleep, whether it is exercising, cutting back on alcohol, coffee and cigarettes, taking a relaxing hot bath before going to bed, having a quiet and dark bedroom or a combination of all of the above.  Limit your news intake, especially before going to bed.  Sleeping well is very important to your stress level and overall well being.

7.  PRACTICE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALIZATIONS

Give yourself messages as to how well you can cope rather than how horrible everything is going to be.  Learn to say “Yes, I can,” no matter what it is.  The phrase “I can’t do it” is not even part of your vocabulary.  From time to time, especially when in a bad mood or feeling stressed, lean back, close your eyes and visualize something you associate with a positive experience or feeling–an event from your childhood, a sunny day at the beach, a beautiful garden, getting a massage.  It will give you a feeling of joy and put a smile on your face.   🙂

8.  LEARN TO SAY “NO” ….. IN A NICE WAY

There is only a limited amount of hours in the day and you are already trying to de-stress and simplify your life.  If somebody asks you to do something, it’s nice to say “Yes” from time to time, but it is also necessary to be able to say “No” and not feel guilty about it.  Don’t overburden yourself with “stuff” just because you are not able to say “No.”  Learn how to say it, in a nice way!

9.  GET YOUR FINANCIAL HOUSE IN ORDER

Financial disarray can be a constant source of stress (and can be a major contributing factor for divorce).  So make it a priority to get your financial house in order.  Here is a simple guideline.  Find ways to have more money coming in than going out.  That can be achieved by either increasing your income or by cutting your expenses or a combination of both.  And don’t forget to save some money in the process for emergencies.  Life happens, so be prepared for it.  Being from Germany, I grew up with this financial advice, instilled in me by my late father, and it is a general rule to this day:  unless it’s a big ticket item (like a house or a car), if you can’t pay cash for it, you probably don’t need it.

10.  LIMIT CELL PHONE USE

…If you can.  Unless you are a doctor on call, you probably don’t need to be reached on your phone at all times.  So, leave it at home if you really don’t have to have it with you, or at the very least turn it off.

Most of all:  ENJOY LIFE!  LIFE IS TRULY BEAUTIFUL!     🙂

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Find Your True Calling In Life

As I was reading an article about people who leave their stressful jobs and lives behind and find happiness and joy in more rewarding and less stressful careers, I couldn’t help but thinking back to one of my clients.  I remember exactly the very first massage appointment with Tom.  His neck was such a mess that he almost couldn’t move his head from one side to the other and he told me that he experienced regular horrible headaches.  While working on his tense muscles, I tried to figure out what might have caused his neck being in such bad shape.  And it only took a minute until we figured it out.  As a stock broker, he spent most of his day at the computer and on the phone at the same time.  So naturally, I asked him whether he had a headset which he said he did not.  So, whenever he was on the phone and computer at the same time (which was a lot), he was just basically holding the phone between his chin and neck.  As soon as he told me that, he realized himself that that was most likely the cause for his horrible neck condition.  Well, it only took a few weeks after he started using a headset until his neck was okay and the headache had disappeared.  While we were talking a little about his job, it was also obvious to me that he was under constant stress and didn’t seem to particularly like it.

It was only a few months later when he told me that he had decided to leave behind his stressful job and life and move away with his family to take on a teaching position, something he always wanted to do.  “I finally will be able to enjoy life!”  And I remember his smile and his sparkling eyes when saying that.  It was a big step because it would mean a lot less money, but judging from his new found happiness, that didn’t seem all that important.   🙂

I always thought that people who follow their passion and work in a job, have a business, or are in the creative field, reflecting their passion, are generally happy people.  If you would ask them about their work, they very likely will tell you that they don’t look at it as work because they like what they do and are passionate about it–And very often rewards follow.

Tom found his true calling in life and decided to make that transition.  And I was very happy to hear that he had no regrets and really enjoyed life to the fullest, probably for the first time.

Life Is Too Short–So Kiss Slowly,
Laugh Insanely, Love Truly,
And Live With Passion.

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Like A Virgin — Massaged For The Very First Time :-)

So, somebody thought it was a good idea to give you a gift certificate for a massage with the words “Oh, you’re just going to love it!”  Did they realize that you’re a “massage virgin?”  That you never had a massage before?  And that you’re actually quite anxious about the prospect of getting one?  Well, let me tell you:  You’re in for a treat.  Let me introduce you to

“THE MAGIC OF MASSAGE”

Getting a massage used to be reserved mainly for affluent people.  Over the past few years however, it has become more and more mainstream as people are learning about the benefits of massage and are interested in looking for alternatives in dealing with aches and pains and to get relief from stress.

Even though massage has risen in popularity in the United States, only a fraction of the US population ever experiences how wonderful it feels getting a massage.  Compare that with other parts of the world where massage and other alternative therapies are very common and even part of preventive health care, and you can see that there is room for growth.  Receiving a good therapeutic massage can do wonders for the body and soul.  Some people get regular massages to deal with everyday stress, manifesting itself often in tight neck and shoulder muscles.  Experts estimate that stress is a major contributor in more than eighty percent of health concerns.  There is also something to be said about the power of the human touch, and statistics have shown that when, for example, babies born prematurely were given gentle massages, they gained weight faster and were able to leave the hospital earlier.  After a massage, people feel generally positive, relaxed, even happy.

Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind.  By producing a meditative state or heightened awareness of living in the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing with it true relaxation and peace.  The physical benefits of massage can range from improved circulation, release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer), decreased depression and anxiety, help with insomnia, lowering blood pressure, pain relief (like migraine or back pain), to helping heal injured muscles faster.

Here are a few helpful tips to make your first massage an enjoyable experience:  A good massage therapist will apply just the right amount of pressure to ensure you have a relaxing, yet at the same time effective massage.  However, feel free to let the therapist know to increase or decrease pressure for your maximum benefit.  You will notice that your body is covered up with a sheet and only the areas being worked on at any given time will be undraped.  Most therapists will us scented oil which can have a powerful effect on your mood, and depending on the scent, can make the massage either more relaxing or invigorating for you.  After receiving a massage you should always drink a lot of water to flush out toxins that have been released during the massage.  Especially after your first massage, you may feel a little soreness the next day, but don’t worry, if you do, it’s only temporary (don’t forget, your muscles basically got a little workout), and after the soreness disappears, you will feel very relaxed in the areas that were oh, so tight before (neck and shoulders come to mind especially).

All in all, if you’ve never had a massage, you should explore it.  There is a good possibility that you’ll actually get hooked.

On the lighter side, one comment that I get frequently from women “That felt better than having sex!”  When men comment, it’s usually “That felt almost as good as sex!”   🙂

Click on the following link to watch a funny little clip “Like A Virgin — Massaged For The Very First Time”   🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUUnyI4e5Mo

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