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Finding the right massage therapist for your needs

August 26th, 2009

I have worked on thousands of clients in my many years as a clinical sports massage therapist. I have often adopted a concentrated style to suit a clients individual needs. The type of clients that usually seek me out are looking for very specific integrated muscle work or deep tissue therapy. My style does not suit everyone looking for a massage. There are so many types of massage that I often feel as though I am learning a foreign language as I describe the various modalities:

Tui na, swedish, esalen, neuromuscular, orthobionomy, hot stone, craniosacral, lomi lomi, trigger point therapy and the list goes on for miles.

The key is to find a massage therapist with adequate professional training, that is ethical and specializes in the type of massage you are looking for.

Swedish is not deep tissue. Neuromuscular is not shiatsu. It is important to ask the establishment you are going to if the therapist specializes in certain modalities. Otherwise you are likely to get the same swedish massage no matter what you ask for! I have had this happen over and over again.

There are various websites that rates spas and therapists. I often use to help me make an intelligent choice for my needs. I ask my friends and I look for referrals when I can’t find adequate ratings on the internet.

Identify your goals and health status. The first thing you should do is set goals for the massage session(s). Are you interested in:

Reducing stress?

Reducing muscle contractions or tightness?

Living without chronic or acute pain?

Helping to relieve edema?

Enhancing your general health and well being?

Improving your ability to participate in sports?

Lastly, think about your price point. Do your homework. Do you want an hour massage or an hour and a half massage? Do you want a professional full body massage or do you want specific work done? Is it 50 minutes or 60 minutes? Can I buy a package and save some money? These are all practical questions you should ask yourself if you are not familiar with the massage industry.

Alas, dress down to your level of comfort. In a professional setting you should always be covered between two sheets or a towel and a bottom sheet. Some clients prefer to keep their undergarments on and others are more comfortable disrobing to the skin. Both ways are common practice so do your homework, make that phone call and remember to breathe, relax, and rejuvenate.

Good luck!

Dana Oppenheim, CMT

“Of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest.”

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Basic Weight loss = Smart eating

September 2nd, 2008

I am like most women when it comes to teetering weight gain and loss. With each passing year and another notch to my age it seems as though the calories get harder and harder to burn.  A slice of pizza no longer takes 5 days to burn off, rather a week. Yuk! Awww, come on, that is one of my favorite decadent foods to eat. Life is no fair! Hmph.

Over the last two years I have been figuring out what truly works for my body without any kind of crazy dieting, starvation 101 plans, or cutting out all of my decadent foody desires. First basic step. Training my mind, remembering how much I love me when my pants are easy to button and how I feel emotionally when I allow myself to not constantly overindulge. I highly recommend The Jungle Effect, written by Daphne Miller.

I take my time losing weight even if it takes 6 months or longer to notice a difference. I work out as well but not crazily. I make sure I can keep my heart rate up as long I do something active, even if for only half an hour.

Eating in moderation with smaller portions throughout the day. By doing this my metabolism is able to burn up more food and the unused calories don’t store themselves in my fat cells. Stick with Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids.

Because I do not have a super active job I have cut down significantly on my carb intake (carbs and sugar turn themselves into fat if not burned) and concentrate on protein. I eat fruit throughout the day when I have an urge to grab a homemade cookie or yummy desert at work. There is always food around at the places I work so temptation lurks.  I am also a coffee drinker so instead of going for something sugary and nonproductive for my mind or body I will make a soy latte.  Decaf since I am wimp for the jitters. There is a low sugar content in the soy and I pour maybe 1/4 of a cup over the espresso. Mmmmmmm…..that’s making me want one now. Coffee snobs unite! Wait, that’s another topic, back to the program.

Instead of deep fried foods I will choose flash fried but only as a very special treat. Like when I am eating sushi.  I will have one or two pieces. I allow myself indulgences when I am eating well. I love big salads so I will not deny myself my favorite dressings. I will fill myself up on salads and know that it is okay to add dressing since my meal is so nutritious.

There are so many ways to maintain a healthy weight. It is all about healthy foods. NO fast foods. Absolutely not. Mind over matter truly.  Try going to Whole foods or some place similiar where you can indulge in their tastings to get over a craving. While you are there you know you can feel safe being in an environment that lends itself to more positive choices. It is all about smaller portions and enjoying it for what it is in that moment. You have a lifetime ahead of you to try all of your small indulgences.

Do not beat yourself if you fall off the wagon. Try getting your heart rate up and if that does not work, know you are merely human and we all fall off of the wagon one way or another.  If you do not work out than know that it is okay if you must go crazy once or twice replace those temptations with veggies next time.

Bored sitting around? Want to grab some snacks? Chips? Try something different. If you are going to rebel and stuff your face have baked chips on hands. Even better have an alternative chip on hand that is different and fun. Experiment with healthy premade foods. Once you are done eating your portion, give the remainder of the bag to a homeless person, your neighbor, a pet. Get rid of it after you have enjoyed it for that moment. You can have a lifetime of those moments if you choose to not slam the entire bag down.

Fat free on a label does not necessarily mean fat free. Look at the contents. Is there sugar? Ouch. Is there some yucky sugar alternative? More than likely it means that is sweeter, will not digest propery and will not break down in your body as it should. Stick with healthy. Now now, do you hear me?

Three gold stars for me!  Good luck and see you on the road to feeling more energetic. See you in the furture having a longer lifespan  and simply contributing  to a healthier y-o-u.

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Importance of staying flexible- S-T-R-E-T-C-H

August 8th, 2008

Many clients come to me with stiff backs, tight shoulders, aching legs, nerve compression and the list goes on.  I would like to promote massage therapy as the end all of completing homeostasis in the body but there are many other important components that go along with good health and feeling relaxed. Three of the most important things to remember.

1. Me!

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with water. If you are one of those everyday protestors of drinking water…Blah, boring, no flavor, POOEY! Try flavored water, minus the sugar that some companies hide in this hubba delicacy. Water is kind. Water is your friend. Water is cool. It is kind of like how oil is to a car. It keeps the engine maintained and running smoothly. Well oiled. Water does the same thing for our bodies.

3. Stretch. Stretching core parts of our muscle groups are essential. In my opinion the most important exercise. Treat yourself.  Breathe slowly concentrating into the stretch. Visualize.

PNF (or proprioceptive muscular facilitation) is one of the most effective forms of flexibility for increasing range of motion.
PNF techniques can be both passive (no associated muscular contraction) or active (voluntary muscle contraction). While there are several variations of PNF stretching, they all have one thing in common – they facilitate muscular inhibition educated stretches. Often the isometric contraction is referred to as ‘hold’ and the concentric muscle contraction is referred to as ‘contract.  Each technique, although slightly different, involves starting with a passive stretch held for about 10-12 seconds.
1. PNF stretching is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.
2. If PNF stretching is to be performed as a separate exercise session, a thorough warm up consisting of 5-10 minutes of light aerobic exercise and some dynamic stretches must precede it.
3. Avoid PNF immediately before, or on the morning of competition

Stretching and massage therapy as well as other therapies don’t cure you over night. Integrating massage therapy and stretching into your lifestyle as a neccessity rather than a luxury is the start to an inner body love affair.

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