Massage Therapy

Massage doesn’t always work

More and more I’m working with clients who experience chronic pain that can’t be fully remedied by a physical or external therapy. An example of an external therapy would be medication, physical therapy, or massage.

Wait, you’re a massage therapist, why would you share that massage doesn’t always work?! Because it doesn’t. And in order for me to grow as a professional I must be aware of the limitations of my profession and develop new solutions.

So here’s the honest truth, massage doesn’t always work on its own to solve or fix a physical problem 100% of the time. But you may have already known this.

Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of clients that massage is the perfect fit for, and nothing more is needed. I’ve also witnessed massage not being enough as a stand-alone remedy. The presenting problem must be addressed from several angles to fully support healing.

For clients that are ready and open, I utilize massage, Craniosacral therapy and/or TRE with simple mindfulness + dialogue techniques to advance and/or deepen the healing process.

The added layer of mindfulness supports an individual to connect with physical, mental and emotional data from a neutral place that allows for the re-integration of pain, trauma and/or dis-ease.

If trauma can get trapped in your body, it can also be released. This is the law of physics I think. But, what is the best way to release trauma from the body without overwhelming the organism?

How can “being mindful of pain” help heal pain? Most people don’t want to be in pain. This is very natural. But somewhere along the line, someone came up with the idea that pain is bad and it shouldn’t be felt, and most of us believe this.

Well, the more we resist pain, the more intense it becomes. That’s why we search for help. The one who can fix the pain. I believe being mindful of pain sensations adds a layer of depth to see that you are not in pain, pain is in you.

Once this is fully realized pain is more likely to come and go with ease. You don’t have to resist it or hold on to it anymore.

I’m not suggesting you just grin and bear it either. That’s not helpful. I suggest you work with someone who will really help you examine your pain, it’s sources and establish a successful treatment plan together.

So, massage may not work all the time, but it will work most of the time and it could work even more if your therapist + you approach pain in a more dynamic way.

Thanks for reading!

Tara

Self-care, Thoughts on Life

How do you find balance in a culture of extremes?

How do youLately I’ve been curious. How do people do it? How do people manage to balance everything they’re involved in: family, career, health, social life, hobbies, personal growth and self-care?  How do you know when you’re out of balance?

Up until very recently, I found it nearly impossible to feel balanced in my life. I was working a full time job and building a business on the side, which often required 20-30 hours of my time per week on nights and weekends.

Americans are working more than ever right now; more than any other country in the industrialized world. On average, we are working 47 hours per week (which actually seems low). This leaves very little time for all things fun and self-care.

It came to a tipping point when I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was going to explode. (In fact, I did, you can read about my explosion here.) I realized that my sanity was more important. I asked my boss if I could work less at my full-time job. I was astonished that my employer was happy to accommodate my needs, and I was offered the same health benefits as I was receiving at full-time working 24-hours per week.  My work load at this job lessened and the amount of stress I experienced was cut in half.

I felt more balanced, less stressed, and more optimistic in general. I continue to re-work my schedule and evaluate my stress levels. In an effort to share what I’ve learned through my own imbalances, I came up with 4 ideas to help you find more balance in your life.

Make a schedule for time off.  Maybe you already do this! Or, maybe you only take time off when you’re burned out or sick. Sound familiar? Solution: every 3 months, take 5 days off in-a-row.  This would equal 4 vacations per year or 1 month off per year.  Place as much importance on your time away from the office as your time in the office. That’s how we create a balance.

Take care of yourself every single day.  Start by doing one small thing everyday that helps you relax, re-center and lighten your mood. Imagine how great your life could be?  Beyond what you can do each day, what could you do each week, month, and year that would help? For example, maybe once a year you take a new class that inspires your creativity.  Maybe each month you get a massage, and once a week you go for a hike.  Think of what makes you happiest and plug those happy experiences into your daily life. Balance work with play and place a higher importance on self-care.

Reflect. Journaling is a powerful tool to create change. I highly recommend taking notes on how you’re feeling, what’s contributing to your happiness, and what’s contributing to your stress. Hand writing is cathartic so it helps relieve stress right then and there. I use writing as a way to release; an outlet to discharge thoughts I no longer want to control my mood. It’s the cheapest therapy there is.

Put the phone away. Turn it off. Delete the dreaded facebook app from your phone. Ask yourself with love, is my relationship with my phone balanced? Is it stressing me out? I suggest taking phone breaks. Just like vacation, we need time away. If the phone isn’t an issue, look to see if there’s another gadget or behavior that is subtly impacting your life. I take social media breaks often, put my phone away when I’m with friends, and turn it off from time to time ;). It’s so freeing!

How do you do it? How do you find balance? I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of love,

Tara

 

Massage Therapy, Thoughts on Life, Wellness

Russian Sports Massage

exerciseThis past weekend I attended a Russian Sports Massage training. Maybe you’re wondering, what the heck is Russian Sports Massage? What makes it Russian? I had similar questions before signing up for this workshop, believe me. I thought I knew what sports massage was, but after this weekend I realized, I had no clue! The workshop was lead by Oleg Bouimer, a very well known sports massage therapist in the LA area. He was born in Russia, but has lived in the States for many, many years. He has practiced massage therapy for 35 years. (Wow!)

He’s quite the character. He saw 10 clients until 12am the evening before our two-day workshop. Then he drove to Tucson from 1am-8am. No sleep involved. After the first day of our training, he stayed up editing our worksheets to better reflect the information he taught us during the day, and then blasted the TV as loud as he could (he loved the excitement of it) and ate a bunch of ice cream. He said he slept from 2-6am. He called this a “celebration of life”. All of us “students” joked with him because we didn’t understand how he could function, and function quite well on little to no sleep. He’s superhuman, we concluded.

One of his life philosophies had to do with energy. The energy you give out, you receive back 10-fold. Oleg’s stories and vibrant energy inspired me. When he showed us how to knead the tissue, I saw how gracefully he moved his body to create an effect in the nervous and muscular systems of the person he was working on. I saw how much his energy controlled the outcome of the receiver.

This mantra translates not only to how I work as a massage therapist and the energy I bring to my clients, but speaks to all aspects of life.

How am I showing up in the world? What am I putting out there, and what am I getting in return? Constantly becoming more and more aware of my energy, my mood, my actions so that I can better serve not only my clients, but ultimately myself.

Now if you wanted to know or experience more about what I learned…I will begin to offer sports massage therapy in my private practice. Not an athlete? Not a problem. I will incorporate some of my new skills into deep tissue and swedish treatments.

The next time you find yourself in a “negative” circumstance, say to yourself, “this is the best thing that could EVER happen to me!” and see how your energy changes. 🙂

Thanks Oleg for your energy, your wisdom, and your passion for massage therapy!

To learn more about Russian Sports Massage check back often – I will add info on my Bodywork page.

In wellness,

Tara

Massage Therapy

What is myofascial release?

Myofascial Release (MFR) is one of my favorite bodywork techniques because of it’s effectiveness in relieving pain. MFR is a manual therapy effecting change of superficial and deep fascia. Fascia is the all-encompassing connective tissue that encapsulates each muscle fiber and cell of our body on a deep level, and each skeletal muscle, vein, artery, organ, bone, etc. on a superficial level. It’s like plastic wrap for our muscles.

Fascial restrictions can occur from injury, immobilization, aging, faulty body mechanics and improper alignment.

MFR seeks to stretch the fascia and restore tissue mobility. You might feel a bit taller after a myofascial treatment because your tissues are literally being stretched and lengthened.

This type of bodywork is based on the principles of tensegrity and encourages movement and circulation of the fascial network, thus restoring normal functions of the body. MFR treatments are far different than traditional massage therapy sessions. There is little to no use of oil or lotion, and techniques include skin and muscle rolling or pressure applied at a restricted area for upwards of several minutes.

Who will benefit from MFR?

  • Clients who experienced a loss in flexibility or function after injury
  • Clients with chronic/ongoing low back, shoulder, or hip pain
  • Clients with pain in any part or parts of the body such as headaches or back pain

In wellness,

Tara

Medicine, Wellness

A Disorder that’s Culturally Encouraged

This topic has little to do with bodywork, and more to do with exercise. I’m passionate about all things wellness, especially our relationship with movement.

After talking with a friend today, I decided to come out of the closet about something. I’ve worked in the field of eating disorders for nearly 6 years, and in those short 6 years I’ve seen a rise in exercise addiction and exercise resistance in women and men with eating disorders. Almost every client who comes through our facility doors has an (unhealthy) relationship with exercise. My passion and specialty at this facility is to support this aspect of their recovery, as I was in their shoes not too long ago. I struggled with compulsive over-exercise and disordered eating for nearly 10 years. My exercise behavior was supported and encouraged by most because they didn’t realize I had a problem (or that exercise could be a problem). To them I appeared healthy, strong and fit. Inside, I was suffering big time.

Our culture is becoming more and more obsessed with being fit, staying active, + losing weight. This seems to be motivated by a fear of becoming fat. We have become fat phobic, and deem the size of our bodies as fit or unfit. I see this especially on social media. Before and after pics. I was fat (bad) then, now I’m thin (good). We talk about our bodies in an odd way.

The other side of this seemingly positive movement is the rise in eating disorders, excessive exercise and body shaming.

I’ve become increasingly curious about how I can help people who struggle with something I have worked very hard to overcome because I have lived on both sides of the spectrum. I intend to put myself out there in a way that is supportive and use my story and experiences for the greater good of our society.

So I begin today, simply by writing about it and getting the conversation started.

Some questions to ponder…

How can we find a balance between nourishing our bodies, moving our bodies, and loving our bodies without finding it necessary to change how they look? What is a healthy amount of exercise? How do you know if you’re exercising too much or too little? Can you be healthy or fit at any size? Who decides if you’re healthy or not?

Questions or comments? Leave them below or email me tara.shultis@gmail.com.

In wellness,

Tara

Medicine, Self-care, Wellness

4 ways to relax without the guilt

Symbol of HealthYou already know that incorporating relaxation into your day is important, but perhaps you’re unsure how to do it. On top of this uncertainty, every time you try to relax, you feel guilty or fear that you’ll become so lazy you’ll never get up again. Rest is part of life. Without proper rest we’d be dead a heck of a lot sooner. When you’re an athlete and you don’t rest the proper amount, you’re more prone to injury. Sitting on the sidelines of life is not fun.

My perspective on relaxation is based on my own struggles to truly enjoy my downtime, or to make rest and relaxation a priority. I have more success and joy in my life when I incorporate small amounts of rest and relaxation into each and everyday.

  1. Be deliberate with your time. Set aside time everyday where you don’t do anything but relax. Turn off all your gadgets. You will never have time to relax if you don’t make time for it. If you don’t take time to relax you run the risk of burning out.  When you’re forced to rest it’s less enjoyable because you’re completely run down and sick or in copious amounts of pain. You can learn more about what to do with copious amounts of pain here.
  2. TRE® or gentle movement. Gentle movement is proven to decrease anxiety, improve mood and sleep. Furthermore, movement brings your attention from your thoughts (worry and stress) into your body (presence). Gentle movement stimulates the body and mind to act as one. When you walk or stretch, neurons are firing, muscles are twitching and the brain is activated. Pain and energy shift, and wa-la! you’re more grounded, centered and relaxed.
  3. Get outside. Ah, nature. Trees, land, dirt, sky, water, sand, stars, birds… some of the most accessible medicine we have. The smells, sounds, and colors of nature are natural analgesics. Attune your senses to nature and you’ll feel relaxed in less than 5 minutes. If you can’t get outside, bring nature to you. Smell a flower, essential oil or eat a vegetable.
  4. Breathe. This is simple. It’s easier than sensing into nature, moving your body and managing your time. Fact: you’re already breathing right now. Tune in for a moment, feel your belly expand on your inhale. Notice where you feel the air move in and out of your mouth or nostrils. Sit up tall. Fill up your lungs with air; empty them completely on each exhalation. Relax your jaw. Breathing is my number one relaxation tool. You don’t have to do anything, just turn your attention to your breath. Let your breathing work for you. Take 5 to 10 slow, deep breaths. Do this as often as you need.

    Relaxation is accessible to you at any moment. All it comes down to is this, how do you want to live? You can live a life that is full of stress and anxiety, or you can learn how to relax and enjoy the ride. It’s up to you!

EnJOY,

Tara

Massage Therapy, Self-care

Back to Earth Meditation

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I find that being grounded and connected to reality is a moment-to-moment practice. I’m a daily meditator because I’m a chronic worrier and negative self-talker. If I don’t meditate, practice yoga, receive bodywork, etc. my worrying and stress levels sky rocket. When I’m worried or stressed I feel like I’m living amongst the stars, I literally feel and act like a space cadet. My thoughts become irrational, I talk to myself negatively, and I isolate. No wonder they created that phrase.

The opposite of spacey is grounded. I strive to live a more grounded life, and relinquish irrational thoughts and negative self talk.

Since meditation helps me release my worries and stress, I wanted to share a very simple technique that I use to ground. Use this when you want to reconnect with yourself, with the present moment and/or tap into the everlasting support available to you anytime, anywhere.

This meditation will leave you feeling more connected, supported and guided throughout your day. It takes very little time to come back to Earth.

::: 1 minute Back to Earth meditation for grounding :::
Find a comfortable seat or stand in a sunny spot near a window.
Sit upright with a lifted heart and relaxed shoulders.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.
Become aware of the areas of your body that are connected to the ground.
Imagine long, sturdy roots extending out + down from your body to the center of the earth.
Breathe into your entire body, as well as your newfound roots.
Simply notice that you’re fully supported right now.
Perhaps repeat a mantra silently a few times, “I am safe, I am supported, I am …”
Open your eyes, continue to breathe + move about slowly.
Namaste,
Tara
Massage Therapy, Responsibility, Self-care, Thoughts on Life

My life’s work.

free
Dear One,
There is nothing wrong with you or your body. The pain that brought you into my office (or someone else’s) is inherently OK. What happened was this. You labelled pain as a problem and your super smart brain created a magnificent story. The story about your pain + the pain itself gained momentum, making it complicated and difficult for your physical pain to get any better. You sought answers. You sought remedies. You even found me!
When your story about the pain became larger than the pain itself it amounted to suffering. Your suffering happened on a subconscious level. It was natural. It was innocent. It’s part of how you coped. You created distance from your pain (you didn’t want to feel it!) through your stories, with the hope of getting rid of it. This made the pain more powerful, more gooey and now you feel more stuck than ever.
What I want to know is this… can you meet yourself (with this pain) where you are right now? Can you acknowledge with integrity a story you’ve created about your pain that keeps your pain alive? How does that story truly help you in your healing? What happens to your physical pain when you release all of your resistance to it?
Right now, are you willing to relate to your pain in a completely new way?
I can’t fix your pain because your pain is not a problem. What I can do is meet you where you’re at, exactly as you are with total acceptance.
You are already whole and complete right now and it’s my life’s work to help you realize it.
Namaste,
Tara
Massage Therapy, Responsibility, Self-care, Wellness

How Often Should I Get a Massage?

cropped-20141126_40761.jpgMany new clients wonder how often they should get a massage. The standard recommendation in the massage industry is once per month for health benefits. I often recommend frequency of visits based on the individual needs of my clients, and their goals for massage.

There are a few things to keep in mind about massage therapy.

  1. Massage has a cumulative effect on the body. This means that the benefits obtained after your first session will be improved with your next treatment. If you schedule your appointments too far apart, the progress made in your previous treatment will be lost and you’ll have to start over. This proves to be a waste of time and money.
  2. Pain patterns take time to develop, therefore they take time to diminish and heal. In other words, a chronic injury or issue can not be solved in one treatment. If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain or haven’t recovered 100% from a past injury, it’s essential to receive massage treatments more regularly to experience positive results.
  3. Massage therapy is a form of preventative healthcare. There are numerous benefits of massage therapy that could potentially help reduce doctor visits, enhance overall immunity, and diminish low back pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain or experience high stress at home or work, I suggest receiving massage 2-4x per month until the pain and/or stress starts to decrease. If you’re including massage in a general wellness plan to reduce stress and relax tight muscles you might consider once a month treatments.

There are numerous factors to consider when deciding how often to receive massage treatments. After your first session, it will be apparent how frequent you need massage to obtain the results you’re seeking.

How often do you receive massage? Are you getting positive results from regular treatments? Let me know your thoughts!

Tara Shultis MA, LMT, RYT

Massage Therapy, Self-care, Wellness

5 Ways to Improve Flexibility

STRETCH (1)Incorporating stretching into your wellness routine has numerous benefits for your body and mind. Here I will discuss my top 3 reasons why everyone can benefit from stretching and 5 easy-to-do stretches that target major muscle groups that are most likely tight right now (hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, calves, and chest).

Top 3 Reasons Why:

  1. Decrease back pain– the culprit of most low back pain is due to hypertonic hip flexors and hamstrings. To help release pain experienced in your low back, incorporate stretches for the hamstrings and hip flexors.
  2. Increase joint range of motion– with your joints working at their optimal range of motion, you can more easily complete daily tasks like reaching to put something on the top shelf, or bending down to pick up your shoes.
  3. Heighten awareness between body + mind– when you stretch, you’re engaging your mind by focusing on a specific area of the body. As you stretch, you might start to notice how that joint and the surrounding muscles feel. Gentle stretching “wakes up” all the little muscle fibers to move a muscle beyond its normal resting position.

Guidelines for stretching

  • Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times per stretch
  • Do not stretch your muscles or joints past their normal range of motion
  • You should feel a slight pull on each muscle as you stretch (you shouldn’t feel any pain)
  • Always listen to your body and stretch when your muscles are warm
  • Deepen your breath, and focus on lengthening your exhale, OR just breathe normally.

5 stretches you can do anywhere:

The following stretches are simple and easy to incorporate into your daily routine. If you’re not a daily stretcher, you can reap the benefits by stretching 2-3 times per week.

uttanasanaseated_forward_bendHamstrings – standing forward fold, or seated forward fold.  For either option, hinge at your hips, extend your spine and bend forward. You might keep your knees slightly bent. The goal is not to touch your toes, but to find a position where you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your upper thighs.

9-Back-of-Leg-StretchQuadriceps – Standing up, grab your right ankle with your right hand, bend your knee and bring your heel to your butt. Keep your hips squared forward, and your knee pointing down toward the ground.

hip-flexor-stretchHip flexors– To stretch your left hip flexors, lunge forward with your right leg, lower your left knee and lower leg to the ground, resting the top of your foot against the floor. Tuck your tailbone, gently press your hips forward, bending deeply into your right knee, making sure your right knee does not move past your right toes. You might cushion your left knee by placing a towel, mat or blanket underneath it.

calf-stretchCalves– From standing position, take a step forward with your left leg, lean into a wall for support by placing both palms against the wall at shoulder level. Bend your left knee, and press through your right heel, keeping your right leg straight.

chest-doorway_stretch_towardChest– I love this stretch! Use a doorway, place both arms at 90 degree angles on either side of the doorway. Lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in your upper chest muscles.

 

Tara Shultis, MA, LMT, RYT