fbpx

Can Massage Therapy Help with Low Back Pain?

Massage-therapist's-hands-putting-pressure-on-a-person's-lower-back

For most of us, the answer is probably ‘yes’. Massage is non-invasive and very low risk for most people. In addition to physical benefits, certain types of massage can help psychologically through relaxation and increased production of ‘feel good’ chemicals. These chemicals (also known as endorphins) are naturally produced by the body and are helpful for people with both acute back problems and chronic back pain.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is now more widely accepted in the medical community than ever before. Massage is a credible treatment for many types of back pain and has been recommended alongside other treatments. Research shows that massage therapy has several potential health benefits for back pain sufferers, including:

  • Increased blood flow and circulation, which brings needed nutrition to muscles and tissues. This aids in the recovery of muscle soreness from physical activity or soft tissue injury (such as muscle strain).
  • Decreased tension in the muscles. This muscle relaxation can improve flexibility, reduce pain caused by tight muscles, and even improve sleep.
  • Increased endorphin levels (the “feel good” chemicals in the brain). This mood enhancer can ease depression and anxiety, reducing pain and speeding recovery. This is particularly important for those suffering from chronic back or neck problems.

Back pain is a very broad statement. There are numerous types of back problems and many may benefit from massage therapy, including:

  • Muscle strain in the lower back or upper back/neck. Most episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by muscle strain, such as from lifting a heavy object, a sudden movement or a fall. Low back pain can be very severe and last for several hours, several days or even a few weeks. When back muscles are strained or torn, the area around the muscles can become inflamed. The muscles in the back can spasm and cause both severe lower back pain and difficulty moving. The large upper back muscles are also prone to irritation, either because of lack of strength, or overuse injuries (such as repetitive motions). Upper back pain may also be due to a specific event, such as a muscle strain, sports injury, or auto accident. Therapeutic Massage can calm the spasm/irritation and improve range of motion.
  • Osteoarthritis of the spine. Spinal arthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage between the aligning facet joints in the back portion of the spine. The facet joints become inflamed and progressive joint degeneration creates more frictional pain as bone rubs on bone. Muscles will tighten and become fatigued while trying to stabilize the spine. Massage therapy can help reduce osteoarthritis pain by improving circulation and reducing stress and muscle tension.
  • Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can affect people differently but is usually characterized by pain, stiffness, fatigue and/or non-restorative sleep. The patient typically feels both widespread pain and pain in specific “tender points” as evidenced by physical examination. Massage can target both the tender points and the more broadly distributed pain and stiffness. Relaxation massage goes a long way to helping reduce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

Five Gold Medal Reasons Olympic Athletes Get Massage Therapy

Man-getting-a-massage-on-his-back

During the Rio Olympics, there was a lot of discussion about massage therapy and how many Olympic athletes incorporate regular massage as an integral part of their hard work and training. What do they know that keeps them strong and healthy through all their years of practice?

Sports Massage is their “Secret Weapon”

Research shows that massage therapy can benefit athletes of all fitness levels, and Olympic Athletes are no exception. So how can a massage strategy keep both the Olympic and average athlete strong and pain free?

1. Reduce DOMS

DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness which is an ongoing problem for every athlete. Inflammation is one of the reasons an athlete’s overused muscles ache 48 hours after strenuous activity. Massage will increase the blood flow to the muscles to speed healing and reduce toxins. Combine this with gentle, low-stress activity and the pain goes away.

2. Increase Agility

Agility, the ability to move quickly in another direction, is part of most Olympic Athletes’ requirements. And this agility can be improved with a massage focused on critical stress points, both before and after the action. In fact, some studies have shown that a shorter massage on only the specific muscle groups was more effective than the longer, more relaxing Swedish Massage.

3. Injury Prevention

Injuries are often prevented with a short, pre-activity Sports Massage, tailored to the particular muscle group that will be stressed. Tendons and ligaments are relaxed and more likely to stretch than tear, while blood flow keeps the harmful chemicals from building as fast.

4. Speed Healing

The human body is an amazing machine with the ability to heal itself when provided with the right tools. Massage improves circulation which allows this fast healing while carrying away the chemicals that cause muscle damage. Combine massage with healthy eating which provides the proper fuel, and this human-machine runs (and heals) smoothly and quickly.

5. Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to injury, infection, or toxic chemicals. It’s the localized buildup of white blood cells, dead red blood cells, and bacteria, which cause that area to redden, swell, become hot, and is often painful. It’s a sign that something is wrong (both good and bad), and will usually clear up over time. However, a massage after strenuous exercise will reduce the inflammation quickly, and allow the healing to occur sooner.

So take advantage of the secret Olympic athletes know and include the Sports Massage benefits as part of your personal workout plan. You’ll get better results and enjoy your activities more than ever. That’s a gold medal reason to incorporate massage therapy into your routine.

Stress Relief With Therapeutic Massage

Woman-holding-hands-up-and-looking-stressed

Our experiences in life are reflected in our bodies. Our pleasures and pains, the ups and downs of daily life affect the body profoundly, often in ways, we’re not aware of. Stress is more than a household word these days – it’s something everyone feels to one degree or another. Let’s take a look at the mechanics of stress and the role therapeutic massage can play in stress management.

Understanding The Stress Response

Stress is an unconscious and automatic reaction to anything we believe may be threatening to us. In the stress response, the body is primed for fight or flight by messages carried by the sympathetic branch of the nervous system. Whether we are confronted by a mugger in the street or find ourselves in a long line at the bank or a short lunch hour, the effects are the same, impacting all levels – physical, mental, and emotional.

We are at full readiness as our body tenses and our breathing gets shallower and more rapid. There is an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline production, with a corresponding decrease in blood flow to the extremities, digestive function, and immune system activity.

Ideally, this defensive reaction will subside once the situation has resolved, allowing our body to return to its normal state of affairs. We often help this process with some rest, the right exercise, or massage therapy.

However, a person who is frequently under stressful influences will tend to remain locked into a pattern of the stress response, unable to relax or let go. This type of pattern is damaging to the body; as it escalates, it ultimately leads to discomfort or pain and is a contributing factor in most disease processes.

The longer one is in pain, the more likely one will try to block it out. It is at this point that alcohol and drugs often enter the picture. Unfortunately, as one uses substances that deaden the nervous system to reduce the perception of the pain, awareness of oneself and others are reduced in the process.

In Our Everyday Experience

Like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake, we experience stress whenever we initiate action and hold it back at the same time. Our ever-obedient muscles try to obey both messages and work against each other.

In the same way, we have our own unique muscular responses to the expression of emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and exhilaration. We use our muscles to block, control and restrain these strong feelings and our reaction to them. Even though we may be unaware of the amount of tension we store within, it puts extra wear and tear on both mind and body over time.

Maintaining these patterns of chronic tension is like leaving the lights on all night – it takes energy; but once it’s a habit, we no longer recognize it as such. What we do notice are aches, pains, fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, PMS, or a host of other stress-related symptoms. These symptoms are important signals to be heeded, rather than ignored or bypassed. Accumulated stress and tension always diminish the amount of energy and vitality we have to enjoy life, be creative and productive, and strive for better things.

The Relaxation Response

The antidote to stress is known as the relaxation response, which is triggered by the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system. This action sends messages to the body to relax, slow down and take a deep breath: saying in effect, it’s time for rest and healing.

There are a number of ways to promote this response, such as exercise, meditation, listening to calming music, guided visualization, biofeedback, and of course, therapeutic massage.

Massage takes place in a comfortable and safe environment, which is generally away from the source of most stressors. As massage stimulates the relaxation response, muscular tension is released, circulation is increased and sensory receptors are activated. Areas that have been “cut off” by accumulated stress can begin to feel once again. Massage teaches us to tune in to body signals and soothes us at the same time.

All of this results in greater body awareness which can help you to more carefully monitor your own body’s responses and needs. Then you can release tension before it becomes chronic and damaging. Living in a more relaxed and balanced body will enable you to better handle the stresses in your life, and nothing can take you back to that state of well-being more quickly than massage.

Benefits of TMJ Massage Therapy

massage-therapist-massaging-a-clients-tmj

TMJ Disorder or Syndrome is a term used to describe temporomandibular disorders (TMD), which happen as a result of problems with the jaw, the joint, and the surrounding facial muscles that control moving the jaw and chewing. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. This bone is located in front of the ear on each side of the head. When working correctly, the joints are flexible, which allows the jaw to move smoothly side to side and up and down, also enabling one to chew, talk and yawn. Muscles attached to and surround the jaw joint to control the position and movement of the jaw.

People with TMJ disorder experience severe discomfort and pain that can be temporary, or it may last for many years. More women than men experience TMJ and this disorder is seen most commonly in people between the ages of 20 and 40.

Massage therapy is a healing technique that has been around for thousands of years and is practiced all over the world. It has been proven to help alleviate a variety of medical conditions, including TMJ disorder.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Asymmetry of the muscles of mastication, which is also known as chewing, tightness of the back of the neck, forward head posture, and many myofascial trigger points can cause TMJ disorder problems. Injury to the jaw, the temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck can cause TMJ disorder. However, something as simple as grinding or clenching the teeth puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ and can cause TMJ disorder. Also, the jaw is a ball and socket joint, and dislocation of the cushion between the ball and socket can result in TMJ disorder. Finally, TMJ disorder can result from inflammation caused by another illness, stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

There are several symptoms that are indicators one is experiencing temporomandibular joint disorder, including:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth wide
  • Difficulty chewing as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
  • Jaws that get “locked” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Limited motion to open the mouth wide
  • Clicking, grating sounds or popping in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth

What Happens at a Precision Wellness Massage Therapy Session for TMJ Disorder?

While treating TMJ, our massage therapist will focus treatment on the reduction of tension in the masticatory (chewing) muscles, eliminating trigger points—the painful “knots” felt in the muscle that refer to pain elsewhere—and releasing tension in the fascia tissue around the jaw area. Fascia is the tough, dense connective tissue that surrounds every muscle, nerve, bone, blood vessel, and organ of the body. Some of the common massages that our massage therapist will use when treating TMJ include:

  • Swedish Massage – While this is the most common and well-known massage, it has a number of benefits; a primary one being that of relaxation. Our massage therapist are experts in providing relaxation through a full-body Swedish massage can have a huge impact in reducing jaw tension, as stress contributes greatly to TMJ disorders.
  • Neuromuscular Therapy – This technique involves our therapist applying pressure to trigger points in the jaw muscles to help relieve tension and return muscles to a relaxed state.

How Will Massage Help With TMJ Pain?

Massage is the manual or mechanical application to alleviate pain or induce relaxation in the muscles and other soft tissue of the body. The term massage therapy covers a group of techniques that we at Precision Wellness practice. In all of the techniques, our therapists press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body, often varying in movement and pressure to satisfy each individual’s needs. Usually, the intent is to relax muscles, increase blood and oxygen to areas, and decrease pain.

Massage and Summertime

Massage-therapist's-hands-putting-pressure-on-a-person's-lower-back

Many of us are now eagerly engaged in getting our gardens planted, our yards mowed, and our flower beds cleaned up from our long and very wet winter. We may also be experiencing new aches and pains from muscles and joints that haven’t been utilized in quite this way for many months.  This is a good time to consider massage therapy to keep you going and to keep your muscles, bones, and connective tissue in good working condition.  Here are some of the many benefits massage therapy provides.

  • Relieves stress, pain, pain induced anxiety, and muscle congestion
  • Improves range of motion increasing flexibility and muscle tone
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Improves metabolic waste removal strengthening immune function
  • Improves alertness
  • Reduces swelling
  • Clears thinking
  • Encourages faster healing time
  • Relieves tension headaches
  • Provides a sense of well-being
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Supports white blood cell proliferation aiding our immune system
  • Reduces depression
  • Relives symptoms of nausea and vomiting for the cancer patient
  • Enhances body image

Equally important as the season changes is to maintain adequate hydration.  Muscles and tissues require lots of fluids as well as good wholesome nutrition to function properly and to avoid spasms and sprains.  When we work or exercise hard our muscles build up lactic acid.  This is normal but often can become lodged within the tissues when spasms or strains occur.  This creates those painful “knots” we often experience that can shorten our range of motion as well.

Massage therapy can release these pockets of lactic acid and return muscles to their optimal best functioning.  If left unattended, lactic acid can become more toxic to the body.  This causes an inflammatory response by the immune system and the pain cycle advances.

A professional massage therapist will apply the right kinds of techniques to muscles and joints to release tightness, cramping, spasms, and knots.  Oftentimes you will only require what I call “regional massage” – working on shoulders, necks, arms, backs, or legs only rather than a whole-body massage.  These shorter sessions are just as effective in providing the benefits of massage, feel great, and are affordable.

Keep yourself going great all summer, consider regional or full body massage to be your optimal best, and complete all your summertime tasks with ease and comfort.

10 Massage Questions You Might Be Embarrassed To Ask

woman holding her hands over her face embarrassed

Am I supposed to tip?

If you get a massage at a spa or hotel, a 15% to 20% tip is standard if you were pleased with the services. On the other hand, there are no real ground rules or norms when it comes to massage in a medical setting. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask if tipping is customary. You can call ahead to ask if you don’t want to do it face to face. If tipping isn’t the norm, you can always show your appreciation by referring friends, family, and co-workers to the massage therapist.

Am I supposed to take off my underwear?

Many people prefer to keep their panties or briefs on during a massage, while others prefer to be completely nude. It’s up to you. If your problem areas are your lower back, hips, buttocks, or groin, tight-fitting underwear can sometimes get in the way of massage work, but a thong for women or briefs for men should do the trick. In North America, if you do remove your underwear, licensed massage therapists must ensure that you are always properly covered by a sheet or towel. Only the area being massaged will be uncovered.

What if I realize I’ve drooled?

Many people fall into a peaceful slumber during the massage but when they wake up, they notice a pool of drool on the pillow or massage table. This is very common. It often happens when people are being massaged while lying face down on the massage table. Don’t be afraid to ask the massage therapist for a tissue.

Will the massage therapist be there when I undress?

In North America, the massage therapist will leave the room so that you can remove your clothing and lie on the massage table (usually face down) under the top sheet.

Don’t rush or worry that the massage therapist will walk in on you — the massage therapist knocks and asks if you are ready before entering the massage room.

Should I talk during the massage?

Although some people prefer to talk throughout the massage, don’t feel like you have to make conversation with the massage therapist. After all, you’re having a treatment, you’re not at a cocktail party! Feel free to close your eyes and relax, which is what most people do.

Deep tissue massage and sports massage are just some of the types of massage that require more feedback. The massage therapist often works on deeper layers of muscle and will want to ensure that the pressure is not uncomfortable.

Be sure to speak up if:

  • The room is too hot or too cold
  • You experience pain
  • You have any questions related to the massage
  • There’s anything you forgot to mention during the consultation

What if I get an erection?

Some men avoid massage therapy because they worry that they’ll get an erection. Or they get the massage but are unable to relax during the massage because of this fear. But there is no reason to be embarrassed. It’s perfectly normal for men to get an erection during a non-sexual, therapeutic massage. Gentle touch administered to any area of the body can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and cause a partial or full erection. Your massage therapist (male or female) understands this and will generally ignore it. If you are still worried, you may wish to wear a men’s bikini bathing suit during the massage, which provides more support than boxers.

How do I know if it’s a legitimate clinic?

Although you might think massage parlors that offer sensual or erotic massage may look obviously seedy, it can sometimes be difficult to spot these places. If you’re trying a new clinic or spa, it’s a good idea to call first and ask these questions:

  • Do you offer therapeutic massage?
  • Is the massage therapist certified or licensed?
  • Do you require a health questionnaire of your clients?

The pressure isn’t deep enough, but I don’t want to insult the therapist’s technique. What should I do?

Communicate openly with the massage therapist. Keep in mind however that it’s a myth that massage therapy has to hurt to be effective. Some of the most effective types of massage therapy are gentle and do not involve deep pressure or pain. In fact, too much pressure can cause muscles to seize up. Here is a good rule of thumb — on a scale of one to ten where one is no pain and ten is extremely painful, the pressure should always be less than seven.

I’m self-conscious about a certain part of my body and don’t want the therapist to see me. What can I do?

People are self-conscious for various reasons. Some of the more common concerns are:

  • I’m overweight.
  • I have excessive hair growth on my body.
  • I’ve got acne on my face or back.
  • My feet are ugly.
  • I have scars.

Being self-conscious should never keep you from seeking health care, whether it’s visiting your doctor or seeing a massage therapist.

I’d rather see a female therapist. Should I request this?

Some men don’t feel comfortable having a massage by a male massage therapist. It may be due to outdated social and media stereotypes of the profession or the fear of getting an erection during the massage.

Some women also prefer a female massage therapist because they say they feel more comfortable.

This doesn’t just apply to massage therapy. A University of Michigan study found that 43 percent of women preferred a female doctor for a colonoscopy. Of these women, 87 percent said they would be willing to wait more than 30 days to get an appointment with a female colonoscopist, and 14 percent would be willing to pay more for one.

That’s why I believe it’s important to challenge your preconceptions. Here are some tips to help you:

  • If you see other practitioners in the clinic or spa, ask if you could meet the massage therapist before you book the appointment.
  • Try booking a massage at a health club or a clinic, where there’s usually a higher percentage of male clientele and staff.
  • You may wish to start with an active form of massage, such as deep massage or sports massage, or a type of massage that is done fully clothed, such as shiatsu or Thai massage.

Pregnancy Massage

massage-therapist-massaging-pregnant-womans-side

Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Massage and pregnancy have often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding the safety and purpose of massage during pregnancy. Modern investigation and research are proving that prenatal massage therapy can be a very instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.

Benefits Of Prenatal Massage

Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage, which aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body.

Swedish Massage is the recommended prenatal massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.

Hormone regulation

Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).

These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.

Reduction of swelling

Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce the collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.

Improvement of nerve pain

Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced a significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular massage.

Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:

  • Reduced back pain
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced edema
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

Precautions For Prenatal Massage?

As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.

Body position during prenatal massage

Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.

Seek an appropriate massage therapist

It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist.  Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs and sensitive areas of the body.

Be aware of sensitive pressure points

Trained prenatal massage therapists are aware of pressure points on the ankles and wrists that can gently stimulate pelvic muscles, including the uterus. Certified prenatal massage therapists are trained to avoid very specific and intentional pressure to these areas during pregnancy. Any woman who has experienced pre-term contractions or consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions should alert her therapist to that fact so that pressure points can be avoided completely.

Women with the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:

  • High risk pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
  • Preeclampsia
  • Previous pre-term labor
  • Experiencing severe swelling, high blood pressure, or sudden, severe headaches
  • Recently gave birth

Is Prenatal Massage Safe Throughout The Entire Pregnancy?

Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased statistics for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Prenatal Massage As Part Of Prenatal Care

The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement proven to improve pregnancy outcomes and maternal health. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.

What To Look For In A Facial

Chloe-applying-facial-product-to-woman-on-massage-table

Facials for problem skin: what to look for

  The following are key components of a good problem skin facial or acne facial.

1. Skin analysis 

Your esthetician should examine your skin closely under magnification and discuss with you what you’re using on your skin daily, in detail. Like a detective, your esthetician tries to piece together the culprits for your breakouts. They may not be the usual suspects, especially if you have Adult Onset Acne. You may have enjoyed clear skin all your life, even avoided teenage acne, and suddenly find yourself breaking out, for no apparent reason. Adult Onset Acne is harder to clear than teen acne, which is very straightforward.

Regardless of your age, acne is never the result of just one factor, such as excess oil or bacteria. It’s almost always a combination of issues, and each one must be addressed in order to get your skin clear.

Your esthetician will evaluate the type of eruptions and impactions you have. For example, you can have very clogged pores but no breakouts. Or you can have breakouts that seem unrelated to any pore impactions. Then again, you may have classic clogged-pores-with-breakouts. This is one of the easiest problems to treat; clearing your pores will usually end your breakouts.

2. Exfoliation 

For someone with clogged pores, a deep exfoliation is the first step in loosening the debris that is blocking the follicle. Skin cells have an adhesive property that enables them to cling to the surface of the skin. The protective “horny layer” forms the outermost layer of the skin. Your pores are not holes in the skin; they’re tiny indentations on its surface. That’s why this layer of sticky surface cells is present inside the pores as well. And if you have clogged pores, you’re cursed with extra-sticky skin cells, which clump together inside the pores, forming impactions that block the natural flow of oil out of the pore. Acne bacteria show up to feast on this oil.

Sometimes “super sticky” skin cells are caused by your own skin’s adhesive properties, and sometimes it’s caused by the products you apply to the skin. If this is the cause of your acne, you have an easy-to-remedy condition called acne cosmedica. It’s simply a matter of figuring out which product in your routine is gumming up your pores. Usually, it’s your moisturizer or sunscreen.

Exfoliation can be accomplished with an enzyme that dissolves dead skin cells (fruit enzymes from papaya and pineapple do this.) A more intensive way to do this is with an alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acid peel. Scrubs are a crude way to exfoliate and tend to cause more inflammation and irritation for acne conditions. The use of AHA/BHA formulas at home will help the cells on the follicle wall continue to slough off. A serum with a combination of salicylic acid and glycolic acid produces an excellent synergistic effect.

Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) also helps to keep the follicles free of debris, and it kills the anaerobic bacteria which cause acne by introducing oxygen. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to use high concentrations of BPO to clear your skin.

3. Proper massage technique

For true acne conditions, the less friction the better, but there are massage techniques, including Manual Lymphatic Drainage and a manipulation called Jacquet (a gentle pinching/rolling) that are beneficial. They help to detoxify the skin. As an excretory organ, the skin is responsible for evacuating waste. Sluggish skin, sometimes referred to as “asphyxiated” skin, needs a bit of encouragement. If your skin texture is normal to thick, and your pore impactions resemble “waxy yellow buildup,” you’ll probably respond well to massage. When dealing with inflamed acne, most skincare experts omit facial massage altogether.

4. Proper extraction technique

Expert extraction is essential to clearing problem skin, but few estheticians employ the proper technique. It must be precise and targeted to the “offending” pore. For example, most estheticians wrap their fingers in gauze, cotton, or tissue and simply squeeze the area around a pore–hard. This is the exact wrong thing to do to the skin in which there are inflamed pustules. The walls of these inflamed pores are compromised and weak from the infection, and squeezing can cause them to rupture, spilling bacteria-laden debris into the deep, living layers of the skin. When this happens, your skin will form “tombstone scars,” trapped pockets of infection buried deep in the skin that periodically re-inflame as stubborn, painful bumps. They can never be extracted and they will haunt you for years (hence the name.)

Squeezing is also poor physics unless you’re dealing with large, open pores such as those on the nose. When you’ve had squeeze-style extractions, you’ll notice that the skin sloughs like mad around the extracted areas in a couple of days. That’s because the pressure of the squeezing literally pulls away from the upper layer of skin and causes it to peel off.

Good extraction technique is about precision, applying the right amount of pressure at exactly the right spot. At Precision Wellness we use a special surgical steel extractor that can address one pore at a time. This is not the big, crude comedone extracting “loop” or “dish with the hole in it”, but has a very tiny curve that is placed around the clogged pore. Then the debris is pushed, from the back of the pore to the front, guiding it toward the “exit.” This enables the complete evacuation of the comedone.

If you find that you break out after facials, the culprit is usually improperly performed, or incomplete, extractions. If the esthetician breaks up a comedone while extracting it, the remaining debris in the pore will run wild, creating a blemish.

If an esthetician ever tells you that you’re supposed to break out after a facial, run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction. The classic claim is that post-facial breakouts are “impurities coming to the surface.” Believe me, your skin excretes impurities and waste all day long–that’s what it’s designed to do. It does not have to erupt to cleanse itself. It is possible to overstimulate the skin during a marathon extraction session, and every esthetician has done this at one time or another, but that’s not the right outcome. If you’ve had a lot of extractions, we’ll often advise putting an ice cube in a plastic bag and massaging the skin during the hours after the treatment. You can also mask your skin again the following day to help sedate it further.

5. Calming and sedating 

After extracting comedones, it’s good to give the skin a chance to calm down.

Many skins will also benefit from a quick pass with a high-frequency electrode. This elongated glass tube, which glows blue to violet and makes an unsettling buzzing sound, looks like something straight out of science fiction, but it works wonderfully. The esthetician can actually create a “spark gap” between a blemish and the electrode to zap it, destroying bacteria. And yes, that little zap feels not-so-relaxing–don’t worry, we’ll warn you. Not everyone prefers to “nuke” their blemishes with high frequency, but it really works.

6. Recommend the proper home care regimen

No matter how good the facial treatment is the key to clearing skin is using the right home care regimen. This is the product that touches your skin daily.

7. Recommend the right interval, right length facial treatment program

Any time you want to change the behavior of your body, you have to repeatedly challenge or treat it, over a period of time. Imagine trying to get in shape by working out once a month, and you’ll have an idea of how unrealistic it is to think that a periodic facial, without a proper home, can clear acne. Don’t be surprised if your esthetician asks you to come in once a week for four to six weeks when you kick off your skin clearing project. The good news is that once you’ve gotten control of your skin, you can drop back to a maintenance schedule that may be as little as once a month. But you have to do your part, and stick to your regimen at home.

It takes a comedone (blackhead) 90 days to form. That means you should allow at least 90 days to cycle through all the existing, built-up debris and get your skin cleared, but professional treatments really accelerate this process. The more you participate–masking at least twice a week, using your home care faithfully, and following our clear skin guidelines–the faster you’ll see results.

Book Your Massage ASAP!

Woman-looking-at-camera-lying-on-a-massage-table-with-candle

There’s no denying a massage is calming — until you start feeling guilty for indulging in a little special treatment.

A small new study excuses us all from the guilt: Massage therapy isn’t just a way to relax, it’s also a way to alleviate muscle soreness and improve blood flow, according to recent research.

Other benefits of massage have long been touted, but research is usually limited. Still, we think there are some pretty good reasons to book an appointment ASAP.

Massage can reduce pain.

A 2011 study found that massage helped people with lower back pain to feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t get a rubdown. That’s good news for the eight in ten Americans who experience debilitating back pain at least once in their lives, Time.com reported.

“We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga,” Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Massage also seems to lessen pain among people with osteoarthritis.

It can help you sleep.

The calming treatment can also help you spend more time asleep, according to research from Miami University’s Touch Research Institute. In one study of people with fibromyalgia, 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks resulted in nearly an hour more of sleep, plus deeper sleep, she said.

Massage may ward off colds.

There’s a small body of research that suggests massage boosts immune function. A 2010 study, believed to be the largest study on massage’s effects on the immune system, found that 45 minutes of Swedish massage resulted in significant changes in white blood cells and lymphocytes, which help protect the body from bugs and germs.

It could make you more alert.

At least one study has linked massage to better brainpower. In a 1996 study, a group of adults completed a series of math problems faster and with more accuracy after a 15-minute chair massage than a group of adults who were told to just sit in a chair and relax during those 15 minutes.

Massage may ease cancer treatment.

Among patients receiving care for cancer, studies have noted multiple benefits of massage, including improved relaxation, sleep, and immune system function as well as decreased fatigue, pain, anxiety, and nausea.

It may alleviate depression symptoms.

A 2010 review of the existing studies examining massage in people with depression found that all 17 pieces of research noted positive effects. However, the authors recommend additional research into standardizing massage as a treatment and the populations who would most benefit from it.

Massage could help with headaches.

The power of touch seems to help limit headache pain. A 2002 study found that massage therapy reduced the frequency of chronic tension headaches. And in a very small 2012 study, 10 male patients with migraine headaches noted significant pain reduction after neck and upper back massage and manipulation. You may even be able to reap the benefits without seeing a professional: Start by applying gentle pressure with your fingertips to your temples, then move them in a circular motion along the hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, WebMD reported.

Stress reduction is scientific.

Between the dim lights, soothing music, and healing touch, it certainly feels like stress melts away during a massage, but research suggests a very literal reduction of cortisol, a major stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can contribute to serious health issues, like high blood pressure and blood sugar, suppressed immune system function, and obesity.

Beating the Winter Blues

Woman-lying-on-a-massage-table-with-a-wintry-scene-viewable-through-a-window-behind-her

Beating the winter blues can be as simple as booking an appointment with your massage therapist.

Massage is good medicine—capable of alleviating stress, easing lower back pain, and reducing tension headaches.

Three ways massage can raise spirits as the thermometer drops

1. Alleviate Holiday Stress—Don’t let your to-do list ruin the most wonderful time of the year. Massage therapy has been shown to help address stress and anxiety while simultaneously addressing some of their physical repercussions.

2. Relieve Lower Back Pain—Whether back pain stems from holiday travel or shoveling snow, research has shown that massage therapy provides superior functional outcomes and symptom improvement over those who do not utilize massage.

3. Ease a Headache—Tension headaches aren’t on anyone’s wish list. Research indicates that those who receive massage therapy experience a decrease in the physical pain as well as the emotional distress associated with the headache.

PRECISION WELLNESS

Therapeutic Massage and Esthetics

Services as unique as you are