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Deep Work Does Not
Have to Hurt

deep tissue massage

I am constantly amazed when new clients come to me never having had a massage but who check "Deep" under the preferred pressure box on the intake form. Have they heard that massage must be deep to be effective? Do they think it is wimpy or a waste of time to ask for medium pressure? Do they believe massage has to hurt?

Other, potential clients tell me, "I had a massage once. I hurt so badly for days afterward, I swore I'd never have another one." When I question them as to why they didn't tell the therapist that they were in pain, they often respond, "I did! She told me I needed it!" Often, my protests that massage does not have to hurt, and shouldn't, fail to persuade them that they need to try another therapist. Their initial experience has turned them off to massage for life.

Deep tissue massage covers a wide range of techniques, and the term itself has become a catch-all for therapists who are trying to advertise a generally understood term rather than a specific modality or technique with less name recognition. Within the profession, deep tissue work can include modalities as gentle as Craniosacral Therapy or as specific to a pain site as Neuromuscular Therapy. Within our practice at Body Balance II, it includes a variety of techniques that we adapt to the specific needs of the client and advertise as Deep Tissue Massage.

Superficial muscles are shown
on the left, and deeper muscles
are shown on the right.
Grey's Anatomy

Beneath the skin, muscles are layered in the body and are surrounded by layers of fascia. They are connected to the bones by tendons, just as the bones are connected by ligaments. Add to this, vessels of the blood and lymph, nerve fibers and organs, and you have the human body. Those muscles and connective tissues nearest the skin are called superficial, and those nearest the bones and organs are called deep.

The best deep tissue techniques try to melt through the skin, fat layers, and superficial muscles and connective tissues to address the deeper muscles and connective tissues. The rule is, "The deeper you go, the slower you go."

So one reason deep tissue massage sometimes hurts is that the therapist is going too fast to adequately release the superficial layers before addressing the deeper layers. The therapist has to let things happen rather than trying to force things to happen.

If you ask for a full-body, deep tissue massage, you need to schedule at least a 90-minute and preferably a two-hour session, or you need to ask for deep tissue on only that area where you are experiencing pain and then receive a more general, relaxation massage on the rest of your body as the therapist has time. Working too fast causes the muscles to exhibit a guarding response and to literally try to push the offending pressure away. If you schedule a longer session, your therapist will be able to work more slowly and deliberately, working with the muscle rather than against it.

If you are injured or already in pain, it is imperative that you communicate with the therapist about your pain levels as the massage progresses. The "Edge Rule" is that on a scale of 1-10, your pain level should never exceed a 6 or 7. If you have taken any kind of pain-killer or analgesic, it should be even less! It is imperative that you tell your therapist that you've taken painkillers, and if at all possible, avoid taking them several hours before the massage. Otherwise, you could be injured even more. That's one reason you have a pain response!

Furthermore, it is a fallacy to believe that lighter touch has no benefits. Massage increases circulation of blood and lymph, inhibits the stress response to promote "rest and digest", and promotes healing and recovery by assisting cellular metabolism, to name a few of its benefits. Effective pain management can be obtained with a lighter touch as well as deeper and is essential for clients who suffer from such diseases as fibromyalgia, lupus, diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis or autoimmune disease, to name a few. Soothing and comforting touch can often be more effective in chronic pain management than deeper work.

Sometimes the difference is less a matter of pressure and more a matter of lubrication. Deeper work requires little or no cream or oil. It is necessary in deeper work to hook and stretch the tissue, or as with Neuromuscular Therapy, to locate and press trigger points to achieve a release (more on Neuromuscular Therapy next month). Therapists using deep work may also use their elbows, forearms and knuckles more, or they may employ tools to help them get to the deeper layers.

Clear and open communication with your therapist is vitally important when receiving deep work. Tell your therapist your symptoms, how long you have had them, what aggravates them, and what other treatments you are using to alleviate them at the beginning of the massage. Schedule enough time for the massage, and tell the therapist what you want from the massage. During the massage, clearly communicate any discomfort you feel or any referred pain responses you experience. (Don't expect to go to sleep with deep tissue.) After the massage, tell the therapist how you are feeling and ask if you need a follow-up visit. Drink plenty of water, take a warm-hot bath with Epsom salts, and follow any post-massage instructions or exercises. After 24-48 hours, call the therapist if you feel worse.

A good deep tissue massage can relieve pain, sometimes like magic. However, you should feel better, not worse, after any massage. Understanding what makes a good deep tissue massage work is one way to stay pro-active about your own health and to spend your complementary care dollars wisely.


Fall Fun: Enjoying the Outdoors

boy in leaves

Now that the days are cooler, it's a good time to get outside and get the juices flowing. Experts say that being in nature for as little as ten minutes a day can boost your energy levels significantly. Certainly, the changing colors and the beauty of the natural world as it prepares for winter can inspire even the most harried and busy among us.

Here are some suggestions for outdoor autumn activities.

Enjoy the fall!


Essential Blend of the Month: AWEO's Ancient Robbers

For nearly six centuries, the plague or Black Death wreaked havoc across Europe, and by the end of the period, more than 25 million people, over a third of the population, had died.

beak doctor
Fourteenth century physicians
stuffed their beak masks with
herbs and essential oils to
ward off the bubonic plague

It is during this time that you find physicians wearing wide-brimmed hats, long dark overcoats and masks with long beaks. They weren't dressed for a costume party, they were actually breathing dried herbs, spices and essential oils that they had packed into the beaks and doused on the robes. They didn't know that the bubonic plague was spread by fleas, but today's science has proved that their costumes actually may have offered some protection because many harmful organisms cannot live in the presence of certain essential oils.

Another story of the time involved four robbers from Marseilles who protected themselves while looting their less fortunate, dying neighbors and sometimes the dead corpses in the graves with garlic and a concoction of herbs extracted in vinegar. It is even said that Nostradamus used the formula to protect workers in his perfume plant from the plague.

The most often repeated version of the story says the robbers were caught and convicted of entering the houses of plague victims, strangling them in their beds and then looting their dwellings. For this, the robbers were condemned to be burned at the stake. In order to escape this fate, they revealed their secret preservative, after which they were hanged.

The modern version of the formula is created in the essential oil blend Ancient Robbers by Ancient Wisdom Essential Oils (named after the famous four robbers in the story). It is almost identical to Young Living's Thieves but less expensive. This blend of pure essential oils was tested at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, and found to have a 99.96 percent effective rate against airborne bacteria.

The ingredients include: clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. All these have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Because of the properties of some of the oils, it should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied directly to the skin.

Ancient Robbers can be a first defense against bacteria and viruses this cold and flu season. Use it in the following ways:

Mix 20 drops of Ancient Robbers with 8 ounces of water to make a spray and use as follows:

Order Ancient Robbers directly from our storefront by clicking here, or call us and we'll order it for you. (828-315-9900)


Fun Facts about Turkeys and Pumpkins

public domain turkey

Click the turkey to take
Aristotle's Turkey Trivia Quiz

Halloween and Thanksgiving get us in the mood for turkey drumsticks and pumpkin pie. How much do you know about these holiday staples? Here are some facts that may surprise you.

Turkeys first…

Now for Pumpkins…


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Nov. 2010

In This Issue

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ancient robbers essential oilAncient Wisdom Essential Oils
Ancient Robbers
 15 ml (no carrier):
$21.00 plus S.H.

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Online Gift Certificates Make Holiday Buying Easy

victorian christmas card

It's not too early to be thinking of Christmas presents.

The Gift of Massage makes a wonderful present any time of the year, and it needn't break the bank. Whether you drop by the office to pick up your gift certificates or buy them securely online, a 30-minute massage is just $35.

If your special someone is a first-time visitor, a senior, or a teacher, you might even qualify for a discount on 1 hour massages. Please ask Suzanne if you qualify.

You can stop by the office to purchase a gift certificate from Suzanne, Laura, or Susan. We'll even take a phone order and mail them to you. Just let us know how many you need. Be sure to call first if you're stopping by, as we work by appointment only.

Online gift certificates are available from Suzanne and take the hustle and bustle out of the holidays and make gift giving simple. You will enter your credit card information on the secure site. We may call you for your security code to complete the transaction.

You can also sign up for special offers and discounts on your birthday and anniversary and the Joy of Spa Newsletter, which you will receive in addition to Warp & Weft. Joy of Spa has some great articles that are entertaining and informative. When you sign up, you will receive a coupon for $5 off of your next massage with Suzanne, and you can use this to purchase a gift certificate for someone else. Click Newsletter Signup to take advantage of this offer.

Gift Certificates Swedish & Deep Tissue:
30 Min.: $35
60 Min.: $60 Massage packages also available with discounted prices.

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Copyright 2010
Suzanne H. Eller

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river in autumm

Autumn is a favorite season for many of us. We anticipate the cooler weather after the heat of the late summer, and we enjoy the beauty in the turning leaves and the magnificent sunsets.

Nevertheless, autumn is a busy time with lots of demands on our time. Children return to school, church activities and charity events pick up, and we start winterizing our homes. Some of us will take vacations or attend conferences. The days are shorter, but our lives are full.

We remind you that autumn is the perfect time to take care of yourself, too. A massage can be just the prescription for injuries received while raking and mulching or to give you a relaxing edge on the coming week of events and obligations. Just give us a call and let us help you make the fall of 2010, the best one yet.

Oct. 24-30 was National Massage Therapy Awareness Week. You already know the benefits of massage, but it is surprising at how many folks just see massage as a luxury with little health benefit. Please be our ambassadors and tell your friends how massage helps you maintain your health and be your best. We appreciate your referrals.

Suzanne and Susan are attending the Southern Spa and Salon Conference this month and taking a class on Sinus Massage. Please ask us about it the next time we see you.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Warp and Weft, and if we don't see you before the end of the month, please have a happy and save Thanksgiving.

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Fall Reading

girl reading in autumn

Cooler weather is the perfect time to browse the book shelves and find a good book to while away the hours. Both the Catawba County and Hickory City Public Libraries had book sales recently, and we've also borrowed from the library.

Here are our fall reading suggestions:

I ended up reading this whole series in about a week and a half. This is the first book, and once you read it, you'll be hooked. Set in Sweden, the books are mysteries that will keep you up past your bedtime. Highly recommended.

I started reading this book one day in the Starbuck's at Barnes & Noble, and I finally had to go back and buy it. It's non-fiction and about how our we are unaware of the choices we make based on our own unconscious minds. I found the chapters on racism, sexism and terrorism particularly interesting.

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 dst fall back
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