Hydrotherapy

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There are lots of fun ways to take care of yourself, and did you know that one of the coolest resources we can use is water?  I’m talking about Hydrotherapy, and it’s anything that takes advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases. This can mean anything from using water jets, underwater massage, underwater exercise, mineral baths, whirlpool baths, hot Roman baths, hot tubs or Jacuzzis, and cold plunges or cryotherapy.

For our purposes, we’re talking about water outside of your body.  For water inside your body, see my recent post about hydration.

You already know about the awesome benefits of taking a whole body soak in a warm epsom salt bath from my post about Massage Preparation for First Timers, but just as a reminder, all you have to do is stir 2 cups of epsom salt (can be found in most grocery stores) into a hot bath.  Sit and relax for at least 20 minutes to feel the benefits of reduced inflammation.  

Ice is also technically water, which makes using ice on your sore muscles a part of hydrotherapy as well.   Just make sure not to sustain ice usage for more than 10 minutes at a time, as this can actually start to cause some localized inflammation of its own.  

And here’s the really cool part.  We live in Austin, which means that we are blessed with relatively easy access to Barton Springs pool (there is of course a certain amount of skill involved in first finding a parking space!).  Once you’ve tackled parking, you’re in for a real treat of natural spring hydrotherapy.

For those who don’t know (or just haven’t gotten around to it yet) Barton Springs Pool is a natural pool that is part of Barton Creek in South Central Austin.   The pool is fed from underground springs that keep the water the same temperature year round, averaging about 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is no cryotherapy cold plunge, the water is nowhere near freezing, though you’re still likely to hear several shrieks of shock as folks drop in for their first dip.  Rather, the water is just cold enough to help rid your body of inflammation without being so cold that you get completely numb and want to kill whomever dragged you there. This is also a great way to experience the cold of the water and its benefits while simultaneously experiencing the warmth of the sun and its benefits.   It’s a win win for you, and for the Barton Springs Salamander that calls the creek home.  

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The Importance of Play

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The child within needs a way to get out sometimes.  I recently had the pleasure of attending the Austin Maker Faire, “a gathering of fascinating, curious people...From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these "makers" to show hobbies, experiments, projects,” which is geared towards kids and getting their brains hooked on learning.  Though my grandmother would probably still consider me a kid, at 31 you would think that I’d be a little out of place in such a setting. Instead, I was welcomed at all the stations, encouraged to be myself, and rediscover my creativity. This while my husband illuminated hundreds of kids with the vast and intriguing world of virtual reality.  

While we adults are all caught up in the world of being such, and all of the responsibilities that go along with it, it is important to take a step back sometimes.  Like waaaay back, to when we were kids. What would 8 year old Sandra do? She’d probably tell me that I’m spending too much time doing boring things, and not nearly enough time playing with her friends.  

According to Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D., in his article for Psychology Today entitled “Why Play Is Important”, “[Play] can encourage creativity, planning, problem solving, and a whole bunch of task-specific skills like spatial reasoning and logic. For both humans and animals, play is a low-risk way to develop our cognitive abilities.”  Now, I’m not saying that we should do everything that dogs do, but minus the butt sniffing shenanigans they really seem to have a lot of their lives figured out.

Play helps to reduce stress and activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which signals to our bodies that we are in a safe space, free from danger.  Existing in this state helps us think about things that maybe we haven’t had time for previously, sometimes revealing new, ingenious, even playful solutions.  Play is also a great way to encourage bonding and can help strengthen relationships.  And laughing.  Laughing is sooooo good for you.  

So take some time today to play.  The kid inside you will be glad you did.  

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Hurts So Good

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Here at Mantis Massage, we specialize in Deep Tissue massage.  This means that we work with the muscles in your body that are deep to some other muscles in your body.  They are closer to the core, meaning that sometimes, we have to go through other muscle to get to them. A lot of people think that deep tissue massage means deep pressure.  Not so! There are ways to access deep tissue without using deep pressure, and it is also true that you can use deep pressure and not necessarily be accessing deep tissue - at least not directly.  

This may seem like a technical difference that doesn’t really apply to you as a client.  But here’s why this distinction is important! Sometimes people think that just because massage hurts means that it is doing something good for your muscles, or that conversely if it doesn’t hurt then it’s not really working.

MYTHBUSTERS TIME!

The way that massage works with your body is by working with your neurological system.  Your therapist is using pressure to signal sensory organs within your muscle tissue, letting them know that is it ok to let go of the muscle contraction that is causing tension, pain and even blood stagnation in your body.  Every body is different, and for some people that means that more pressure will feel good to them, as they can feel their body loosening up and reacting well to the pressure. We like to call this “Therapeutic Pain”. Yes, it hurts.  But it hurts so good. It hurts in a way that feels therapeutic. You can feel it working, and the wisdom in your body says, “Yes! This is a good thing!”.

For other people, lots and lots of pressure signals a stress response in their bodies.  The pressure can be too much, and the body senses danger, avoiding the possibility of being crushed.  In this case, the pain does not feel therapeutic. There is pain, but no gain.  Instead, it feels like alarm! Your body is resisting the pressure and it just feels like pain, without the benefit of therapy.  

This distinction can be subtle, and thus is a reason why it is so important to keep communication channels open with your therapist.  This can also vary for different muscles and different areas of the body.

The most important takeaway here is that if your massage just hurts - and not in a good way - this doesn’t make you a wimp or mean that you need to just clam up and take it.  Massage should feel GOOD! Even if that means that it hurts so good. If it hurts in a good way, you’ll know it. And you are the only one that can really measure this difference.  Also, massage can be really effective even if it doesn’t hurt. It is entirely possible to communicate with your muscles using light pressure. It’s all about you, your muscles, and what y’all need.  

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The Importance of Self-Care

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These past few weeks we’ve been sharing with you some effective self-care techniques.  I hold the importance of self-care as a self-evident truth, however, I realize that it just may be possible that some of you out there are wondering, "Why do I need this?"  So, this week we will explore, what is self-care, why do we need it, and what does it do for us?

Put simply, self-care is the maintenance of one's personal well-being and health.  Every person has a different set of needs when it comes to health and/or well-being, so self-care may look different to different folks.  Of course, we all have physical selves, and non-physical selves. In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.

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So what is self-care?  It’s whatever you want it to be!  Or whatever your “self” needs it to be.  In this blog, we’ve talked about self-care in the form of proper hydration, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and taking care of your (tired) hands.  Self-care basically just means taking the time to listen to your body, and letting it tell you what it needs.  And then, importantly, act on it! Attend to your needs! No, we’re not telling you to be selfish or gobble up all of the available resources.  We are telling you that it’s ok to attend to your needs, and reminding you that you will be better able to care for others once your own needs are met.  In fact, self-care can actually make you more effective and improve your energy!

Which brings me to my next point.  We all need self-care, all the time.  But some of us need extra self-care, more often.  Either we’re feeling vulnerable because of our body’s hormonal fluctuations, we’re under a stressful deadline at work, or we’re going through a period of adjustment or grieving.  Maybe we’re spending all of our time and resources caring for someone who has difficulty caring for themselves. When we are caring for others, self-care becomes exponentially, vitally important.  

Even a few minutes taken out of a stressful day for a quick soak in a bath, a short walk through nature, or asking for help when you need it (and saying "no" when you need to) can help reaffirm your sense of self-worth.  Attending to yourself and listening to your needs is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with you. Your new habit of taking care of yourself can help improve confidence and self-esteem too.

Self-care is also an important mirror for the people around you.  Humans are social animals, taking cues from everyone around us. Setting functional boundaries to take care of yourself shows others that they can self-care too, and signals to them that they have your support to do so.

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Hydration

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Humans need water to live, and while we’re probably all getting the bare minimum, few of us are getting enough for optimal health on a regular basis.  According to a recent U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey using data from 2009 to 2012, only about 30 percent of American's daily water intake came from plain water.  The rest came from other liquids, such as juice, tea and soda.

While these all have water in them, and do count towards your total water needs, many nutritionists agree that that a high intake of fresh drinking water, separate and distinct from other sources of moisture, is necessary for good health.  This is where you get the common suggestion of eight servings per day of eight fluid ounces.

If you’re looking at all water sources, the average male human needs about 3.7 liters (appx. 1 gallon) of liquid water per day, with the average female human needing about 2.7 liters (appx. 0.75 gallon).  This will vary of course along with how much salt you’re eating, how much you’re exercising, and how often you’re getting massage.  And you can put away your swimsuit, playing in water doesn't count!

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So why is it important to stay hydrated?

Your body uses water for EVERYTHING!  But seriously, drinking enough water to stay well hydrated helps your body to maintain its temperature, can help you to lose weight, think better, improve your mood, prevent disease (and headaches!), and make your skin glow.  Water does all this because it acts as a building block, a solvent for chemical reactions, and a transport material for nutrients and waste.

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However, it IS possible to drink too much water.  

An overconsumption of water can lead to water intoxication, which can dangerously dilute the concentration of salts in the body. A persistent desire to drink inordinate quantities of water, often accompanied by frequent urination, may be a symptom of a problem and is worth talking about with a medical professional.  

Sleep as Self-Care

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Did you know that as infants, it is recommended that we sleep up to 17 hours a day!?  Healthy adults need 7 to 10 hours, but as Americans, we rarely seem to get it. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, Americans are practicing an average of 6.8 hours of sleep per night.  And we’ve been trending towards less sleep. In 1942 the average was 7.9 hours.

There are lots of reasons for this, and we won’t go into them here.  Instead, this week we’re going to talk about what you can do to make sure you’re getting enough shut eye - and why it matters.  

How much sleep we get affects our performance, mood, stress levels and overall health and well-being.  An ongoing lack of sleep can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, emotional difficulties, poor job performance, obesity, a lowered perception of quality of life as well as a higher risk of premature death.  NOT ideal.

So what can you do to improve your sleep practice? Well, first of all, see what I did there?  By thinking about your sleep as a daily practice, instead of just something that does or doesn’t happen, it puts you back in the driver’s seat.  And also, it takes practice! Your body responds very well to routines, and getting enough sleep also means that you are more likely to get tired at the appropriate times, which in turn makes it easier to get enough sleep and so on.  

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PLAN

And on that note, make a plan!  Just thinking you want to get more sleep and then barreling full speed ahead without making a plan is a great way to crash and burn.  Take some time to think about a sleep goal. How much sleep you need depends on your level of daily activity, whether or not you’re pregnant, and even your gender.  According the the National Sleep Foundation, women (on average) need 20 minutes more sleep than men do.

Once you know your sleep quantity goal, you can start thinking about what timing works best for your schedule, and then try to stick to your new sleep schedule, even if your work/life happens at a different time every day.  Establishing a regular routine helps your body tune its natural circadian rhythm.

LIMIT YOUR SCREEN TIME

If possible, try to separate your screen time from your relaxation time.  This means turning off Netflix, putting away Candy Crush and finishing reading these (fantastic) blog posts at least 2 hours before your planned snooze time.  Even though it feels like you’re relaxing while you watch GOT, you’re brain is still working out, worrying about undead dragons and whether or not you’re going to enjoy your new [can we call it life?!] as a White Walker.  

MASSAGE

One of the excellent benefits of massage is that it can improve the quality of your sleep.  The reason for this is that massage helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your body’s regulatory system that can only function optimally once the fight or flight question has been answered.  When you are constantly making stressful decisions, i.e. Life, your body stays in sympathetic mode, and all the other stuff gets sent to the back burner. Sleep is not something that is easy to do while you are in the midst of fighting or flying.  Massage helps signal to your body that the danger has passed, and that it’s ok to start attending to the rest of your body’s needs, like breathing and digestion. Deep breathing and proper digestion help to make your sleep deeper and more productive.  

SLEEP ON YOUR BACK

Remember that position that we had you in during the massage where you were flat on your back, with a bolster or pillow underneath your knees? We do this because it is the optimal position that takes pressure off of your spine and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints. If you just can’t fall asleep on your back (the struggle is real!) sleep on your side with a soft yet supportive pillow between your knees, and a pillow for your head that is high enough and supportive enough so you’re not collapsing onto your shoulder. And please, please, please don’t sleep on your stomach. Unless of course you have a perfectly aligned headrest hanging off the side of your bed. There just isn’t a good way to sleep on your stomach without stressing the joints and muscles of the neck. That is of course, if you also intend to breathe while sleeping. Which. We. Consider. Important.

DREAMING

Once you’ve got a good sleep practice going, you are that much more likely to spend at least 2 hours a night experiencing dreams.  Although we may or may not remember our dreams, these unconscious adventures help us to improve learning and memory, and even help us to process our emotions.  Emotional balance helps reduce stress, which makes sleep easier, which means more dreams, which helps us process emotions and reduce stress and...now I’ve put you to sleep :)

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Self-Care: Hands Edition

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If you have hands, they probably hurt.  My clients are often surprised by this, until I remind them that we use our hands for everything! **If you don't have hands, your wrists, forearms, etc probably hurt, in which case most of the following still applies**

So what can you do about it?

First and foremost, book a massage.  And when you’re talking with your therapist pre-session, make sure to mention that your hands hurt and that you’d like to have some work done there.  Your body has a lot of soreness to attend to during your session, so if you don’t mention a specific area, we might forsake it in the interest of spending more time on, say, your tired shoulders.  

Now that you have your massage booked, there’s actually a lot you can do for your tired hands in the meantime!

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ICE

Depending on the level of inflammation and soreness in your hands (did you type a 20-page essay and then go rock climbing for 3 hours?), you may need to start with ice.  Use either a couple of ice packs, or a bowl full of ice water. When using ice packs, never apply directly to the skin. Instead, use a cloth or towel to protect your body’s largest organ.  Limit your cold therapy to about 10 minutes. Longer than that and you can actually trigger an inflammatory response from your body, thereby creating MORE inflammation, and MORE soreness.

HEAT

Run warm water over some towels and then wrap them around your hands until the towels cool off.  Test the heat of the towels on the inside of your wrist, as this is your most temperature sensitive area, to avoid burning your hands.  Never use boiling water or a microwave, as they can get too hot or heat unevenly.

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EPSOM SALT

Add about 1 tbsp of epsom salt for 8 oz of water.  You won’t need much if you’re just soaking your hands.  Whole body sore? Try a whole body epsom salt bath. You’ll need about 2 cups of salt for a standard bathtub.  Make sure to soak for about 20 minutes to help rid your body of inflammation.

STRETCHES

Whether using a soft ball to squeeze, silly putty, or just your average wall, stretching each finger and each individual joint in your hand will help increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and get your hands back to feeling like themselves again.  

MASSAGE

You can also use your hands to massage your hands (Whoa.).  You can even use some tiger balm, lotion or massage oil to make your hands feel really pampered.  Use your opposite hand to clamp down on the webbing between each finger, especially the meaty muscle between your thumb and forefinger.  Take your time, and do what feels good. There isn’t really a wrong way to do it. Just know that just because something hurts doesn’t make it good for you (more on that in a future post!).  In fact, if your self-massage hurts in a bad way, you should probably stop. Sometimes massage hurts so good, but when it doesn’t, it’s ok to ease off and try another technique. 

Did you know that your head is (really) heavy?

Humans.  We're pretty proud of the size of our skulls, and the brains they contain.  "The bigger, the better!" we say.  And all that species bustin' brain matter really adds up.  In weight, if not actual brainpower.  On average, the head of an adult human weighs about 10 to 11 pounds (4.5 to 5 kg).  That’s a ton (no not an actual ton) of weight for your neck to be holding up any time you’re using your head.  And here’s to hoping that is more often than not.

The good news is that your spinal column, and specifically your cervical vertebrae, along with your neck muscles (and ligaments, tendons, etc) are perfectly suited to balance the weight of your head without causing strain.  However, that is really only true when your posture allows for the proper alignment of the aforementioned bones, muscles and stuff.

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Enter smartphones.  And computers. And even an old-fashioned paperback book.  The way we interact with our modern society means that, more often than not, we are looking down at something.  Now, when I was growing up and the elders in my life told me to sit up straight, I was pretty sure that they didn’t know what they were talking about and that good posture was pretty unnecessary.  Sure, it looks nice, and I will get around to that later thank you very much. I just had better things to do.

But here’s the thing, in all my teenage wisdom, I had overlooked the idea that good posture might have an actual purpose.  Turns out it does!  Imagine that.

When your back is rounded forward, and your shoulders are rolled forward to keep your hands on the keyboard, your head will automatically follow because well, you still need to see.  And every inch forward makes a really big difference.

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As Erik Dalton writes in the March/April 2015 issue of Massage & Bodywork Magazine, “For every inch the head moves forward from its ideal gravitational center, it feels as if it weighs an [extra] 10 pounds. The concept is the same as holding a 10-pound weight close to the body, then extending the weight straight out in front of you...your brain’s perception of how heavy the weight feels change[s], and so does the amount of effort required... for supporting the weight [of] the head."

 Imagine if poor Scout here were balancing a bowling ball!

Imagine if poor Scout here were balancing a bowling ball!

That’s 10 pounds of extra weight that your neck muscles weren't planning on carrying!  Can you imagine going about your work and all of a sudden your boss is like, “Oh hey can you just hold this 10 pound bowling ball all day, but continue along at the same rate of production?  Or get more done, and do it faster while you’re at it?  You know what, make that 2 bowling balls."

You’d revolt! (I’d hope you’d revolt). And that’s just what your neck muscles are doing. They’re wielding a revolution. And the tactic at their disposal is that they will hurt, and continue to hurt, until you get rid of the *gd* bowling ball.  

 

So give it a try.  Stand firmly, with your feet planted solidly on the ground with the majority of your weight in your heels.  Roll your shoulders up, back, and then down, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Engage your lower abdominal muscles and look straight ahead with soft eyes.  How does your neck feel?

Now, we know that modern humans are not much unlike teenage me.  They all have better things to do. But if you can take a few seconds every hour or so to help reset your posture, it will start to become more and more automatic.  In the meantime, our skilled massage therapists are here to help your muscles along the journey.  But it can be done.  Because if Robin Wright can do it, I can do it too, dammit.

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MASSAGE: SXSW EDITION

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Did you know that you can receive a massage while listening to literally any kind of music?

 

At Mantis, your massage is all about you.  But did you know that? I mean really know that?  There are tons of ways to customize your massage. We want your session to be as unique as you are.  

STARTING WITH:  THE MUSIC

Each of our therapists has her own personal style, and that will probably be reflected in the music that she chooses for your session.  But there’s the key, the music is a choice. At Mantis, we don’t impose music on our therapists, they get to choose it. As therapists, sometimes we remember to ask you about your music preference, and sometimes we don’t.  As a client, you might not even have a music preference, and making too many choices before your session can start to feel like work - we DEFINITELY don’t want that. But maybe you do have a music preference. Maybe you just came from a fantastic SXSW jam session from this AMAZING new artist that you just discovered via your new best friend that you just met at the Westworld interactive.  If it can be found on Spotify, then it can be played during your massage session. But also! If for some reason it can’t be found on Spotify, but it has found its way onto your iphone, you’re in luck. Our sound systems are equipped to hook up to your phone too! (*apple products only*) Volume is also totally customizable. Some clients have even been known to choose no music at all, which is totally allowed!

TO HEAT, OR NOT TO HEAT, THAT IS THE QUESTION...

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I heard once that in every room with at least 3 people in it, statistically you will find that ⅓ of the people are too cold, ⅓ are too hot, and ⅓ are just right.  It’s the story of Goldilocks and indoor climate control. The great thing about your massage session is that in this case, you are in charge. We’ve got heating pads on every massage table, and all have multiple heat settings.  We’ve also got warm, cozy blankets and optional hot towels. If heat just isn’t your thing, we also have fans in every room. Basically, no matter where you fall on the super scientific Goldilocks Heat Spectrum, we’ve got you covered.  

UM...WHAT’S GOING ON WITH YOUR BODY?

Sometimes, your whole body hurts.  That’s why you came in for a massage, amirite?  But sometimes, your body feels pretty great. Except for that one thing, which hurts like an evil demon of tension has gotten a hold of this one part of your body and just won’t let go.  (Is it possible to just chop off a chunk of my shoulder so I can go about my day?) Basically, we can spend your session giving an even balance of attention to your whole body, or, we can delve into your problem areas and exorcise the demon.  However we spend the focus of your session is totally up to you.

And on that note, it’s Spring!  Which means everything is, well, blooming.  If you are an allergy sufferer and just don’t want to spend any time with your face down, that’s ok!  Or maybe you’d rather spend all of the time with your face down to get your drainage going. Don't worry, we have tissues!  Just let us know what works for you and we’ll get you set up so you’re nice and cozy.  We can also change out our bolsters for pillows or set you up in side lying position. If you’ve got a bun in the oven, let us know when booking and we can make sure that a super qualified prenatal therapist sets you up with the level of bolstering that you need to keep you and your baby-to-be comfy and supported.    

UNDER PRESSURE...do wap, do do do do do (I’m not a musician, ok?)

Here at Mantis, we specialize in Deep Tissue.  But that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we know how to do.  Maybe you usually like deeper pressure, but this week you’re recovering from all the hard work you’ve been doing festival hopping.  We can adjust accordingly and give you a nice relaxing massage to bring you back to yourself again.  Or maybe all that head-banging has beckoned the afore mentioned demon.  We've got the leverage to push it back out.  

This is one of the most important parts of the massage to customize.  Pressure is totally subjective, and sometimes different areas of the body need to be addressed differently.  I usually offer my clients a menu of pressure choices that go in order of intensity from Light to Medium to Firm to Deep.  Let us know what you like and what you don’t.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Soothing Lavender.  Peppy Peppermint. Some people totally dig essential oils.  Aromatherapy can be a powerful tool to alleviate stress. Research has even shown that intensive sniffing of lavender oils can help with some of the symptoms of PMS.  However great some people find essential oils to be, some people just don’t like them. Hormones can have a startling effect on your senses and if you’re pregnant, ovulating, or experiencing menopause, you can be super sensitive to strong smells.  We want you to smell nice..things. We want you to smell the things you want to smell and not smell the things you don’t. So let us know what’s going on in that ol' olfactory factory of yours.

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COMMUNICATION

I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth sounding like a broken record.  Eyes may be the window into the soul, but straight up verbal communication is like a breezy open doorway.  If you tell us about your individual needs, we will do our best to deliver.  But if you never tell us, we'll never know.  This is your therapy session.  Let it be as therapeutic for you as it possibly can be.  


 

(Just A Few) Health Benefits of Massage

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Photo credit hannah h.

So you know that massage feels good.  And that might be enough to keep coming back for more.  But did you also know that massage is good for you? Massage has a TON of health benefits for the body.  This week we’re going to take some time to name just a few.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

Massage helps relieve muscle tension, whether that tension stems from an injury, postural issues, or just from hitting the gym hard and heavy.  Or from hitting Jim hard and heavy (oh, for the love of puns!).  Whatever the source of your muscle tension, massage communicates with your nervous system and says, “Hey muscles, you can let go now.  I’ve got it from here,”. 

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In fact, what usually causes that sudden muscle ache is that a muscle (often Levator Scapulae - a topic for another post!) becomes overstretched or strained in some way.  The wisdom of our bodies will tell this muscle that there is some sort of danger present, and the muscle will contract in order to protect itself.  Which is great! This prevents tears or further muscle strain, and keeps you from becoming Stretch Armstrong.  

What’s not great is that sometimes, even once the danger has passed, the muscle stays contracted.  It doesn’t always know when to let go. The muscle contraction is what hurts, because your blood flow has been interrupted.  Because it takes energy to maintain a muscle contraction, this can also cause fatigue - either limited to the muscle itself, or if enough of your muscles are stuck in contraction, all over body fatigue.  And that’s where massage comes in. As Massage Therapists, we are using pressure (or other various massage techniques) to actually communicate, through the sensors in your muscles, with your nervous system.  The message is that the danger has passed, and that it is ok to let go. Your sensors go, “Ohhhh...right”, and then your muscles go, “Ahhhh..” as the muscle contraction is released and the pain dissipates.  

So by relieving muscle tension, massage in turn also helps promote better blood flow, ease fatigue, improve sleep, improve heart health, and give your skin a nice rosy glow of vitality.  

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PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS:

It feels good to feel good!  Why this might seem like a simple detail, taking time for yourself to do something that feels good has tremendous psychological benefits.  You could be rewarding yourself for reaching a goal or completing a job well done. Or it could be that you are simply nourishing yourself and listening to your body’s needs.   Either way, doing something that feels good is a great way to affirm yourself in a positive way. It reinforces the idea that you deserve good things, because you do!

IN-BETWEEN-ERS

Stress is one of those concepts that is so common that we seldom give it much thought.  But what is stress? Is it an emotion or a physiological process? In short, it’s both. Stress in the body is actually a response to a stressor.  Sometimes that stressor is psychological, sometimes it’s physical. Either way, the body will respond physically to this stressor, which in turn can also have an emotional effect on our well-being.  Sometimes it can feel like you’re going in circles!

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The good news is that massage is great for stress!  While the physical touch of your Massage Therapist initiates a chain reaction of relaxation in the body, your mind is also attended to by the act of stopping and slowing down.  By taking a mini vacation from the physical and emotional stressors in your life, you begin to break the hold that stress has on you. Basically, you’re still going in circles, but in the opposite direction.  The more relaxed you are, the less stress you will feel, which will make you more relaxed, and… you get the idea.

What is this cupping thing anyway?

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If you watched any of the 2016 Summer Olympic games, or saw the Lady Gaga Netflix documentary Five Foot Two, chances are you’ve seen those weird hickey-like circles on people’s backs.  And if that’s the case, chances are you’ve heard of cupping, and wondered to yourself, “What the heck is that stuff all about anyway?”

Turns out Cupping Therapy has been around literally thousands of years.  It has just become more widely known recently because, well, the internet & social media.  

 

First of all, what IS cupping?

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Cupping therapy is a bodywork modality that uses negative pressure (produced by using suction cups), rather than tissue compression, to facilitate rigid soft tissue release and to loosen and lift connective tissue while increasing localized blood and lymph flow to the skin and muscles.  

Dry cupping, using glass, plastic, or silicone cups uses either a small amount of heat to create a vacuum, or a manual or electronic air pump to suck out the air in the cups to create the suction needed to lift the skin and fascia away from the bones and muscles.  It’s like massage in the reverse.  Instead of applying a positive pressure to push the soft tissues around, it uses a negative pressure to lift and move them around.  Neat, huh?

 

And WHAT’S with the weird circles?

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According to CuppingResource.com, clients may “experience a slight twinge when the skin is pulled up by suction. Because the skin is tugged upwards, sometimes tiny capillaries under the surface of the skin tend to expand, and after the cup is removed, patients might notice a circular bruise accompanied by some amount of swelling.”  The bruises will heal on their own and usually disappear completely within anywhere from a few days to a week or two.  

But don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt like it looks like it does.  During the time that the cups are working, you feel a slight negative pressure - just like you feel pressure from a massage.  You’ll definitely feel it.  And yeah it can sort of be uncomfortable. But it doesn’t feel like a punch in the back (which is honestly what I was picturing the first time I saw these bruises!)  It just feels like someone is lifting your stuck muscles away from each other.  This can feel like a rush of relief as the tightness dissipates and new fresh blood rushes into your sore, tired muscles.  

 

So WHY do therapists offer cupping?

Cupping therapy can relieve blood stagnation, improve blood circulation, decrease high blood pressure, loosen connective tissue, promote healing and relaxation, and aid in your body’s natural detoxification.  

 

WHERE do I find this fantastic treatment?  

At Mantis, we have several therapists that offer Cupping Therapy!  Swing by our South Congress location to see Khammi, Julia, or Melissa.  Closer to our Airport location?  Melissa works there too!  If you know ahead of time that you want cupping, mention it in the notes when you book!

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Less Stress = Better Massage

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Adulting is hard.  Life can be stressful at times (or let’s be honest, all the time!), because there are seemingly always more things that are constantly demanding our attention beyond the task at hand.  While our initial instinct may be to simply avoid all of the things in our lives that are causing us stress, this can start to be a problem when it becomes necessary to leave the house.  (This is why in my next life I’m coming back as a house cat!)

So unless your new hobby is learning how to be a hermit (and you’re lucky enough to have someone shop your Fancy Feast for you), learning how to deal with stress is a must.  As we mentioned in a previous post, while a single massage is great for reducing stress and increasing general well-being, whatever part of your lifestyle created the tension in your body to begin with may still be waiting for you after you leave your session.  Incorporating regular massage sessions into your routine is a great addition to your zen toolbox.  And your sessions will be even more beneficial if they are joined by several other stress management techniques.  

FIRST OF ALL, BREATHE.

Yes, it seems like it should be second nature.  And it is, at a bare minimum.  But if you take a little bit of space in your mind to just notice your breathing, it’s amazing how often we’re not really doing it.  Sometimes, you may notice that you’re actually holding your breath without even realizing it.  Long, slow, deep breaths are a great way to calm the body and the mind.  And it takes less time than refilling your cup of coffee.  

INERTIA.

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A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.  For some people, this means that they tend to flit like a hummingbird from task to task, while for others this means that once you sit down to work on that important project you just don’t get up until quitin’ time.  Both have their occasional benefits, but the body works best when in balance.  If your life requires you to spend a lot of time in stillness, a few minutes of movement every hour can help keep away brain fog and increase your breathing.  If your lifestyle involves constant movement, even a few minutes to stop, stay still and take in your surroundings can do wonders for your blood pressure.  Personally, I use my dog for this because well, she’s gorgeous.  Every time we go for a walk, I make her sit for a few minutes at this one intersection before we cross the street.  And I just look at her, sitting peacefully, ready to attend to the next task as it comes along.

GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.

Humans are a tremendously creative species.  We are not about sticking to the status quo, and are constantly exploring new ways of doing things.  This is why I am using a keyboard to type out a message to send out to all of you on the interwebs.  That creativity can take an abundance of forms, but research has shown that working with your hands makes you feel good.  Check out this great read from the Guardian on how (not) to become a stonemason.  From knitting to making music to building tacos, whatever hobby gives you the feels, working with your hands can help clear your mind and give you a boost of confidence and purpose.  Hint: This is part of why I became a massage therapist in the first place...

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Preparation for Massage First-Timers:

 Art by fernando vincente

Art by fernando vincente

So, your body is feeling sore and achy.  You want to feel better (feeling better just, feels better, doesn’t it?!) and your friend or co-worker who gets massages allllll the time asks you everyday if you’ve gotten your massage yet.  You’ve had a friend rub your shoulders once or twice.  And it felt amazing!  But here’s the thing, you’ve never ever gotten even one professional massage before.  Ever.  And you don’t know if you know how.  

That’s where we come in!  Lots of people have never had a massage before, you’re not alone!  At Mantis, we’re all about spreading the joy of massage.  We KNOW how good it feels.  We know about the multitude of benefits that your body will experience, from one session, and especially from a regular regime of adding massage to your newfound health and wellness lifestyle.  

We want you to be as comfortable as possible, so that you can get the most out of your session.  This is YOUR massage, and it’s all about your comfort level.  One of the most widespread and beneficial effects of massage is stress reduction and relaxation.  Stress is no joke, and the buildup of stress over time is toxic to your body.  So PLEASE, don’t stress about how to get a massage.  We’ve done all the research for you (srsly I get a massage monthly, at a minimum!), and here’s what you gotta do:

Before:

No, you don’t have to shave your legs.  

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of gender and the feminine, there will ALWAYS be people with legs hairier than yours.  And our therapists DON’T CARE if your legs are hairy.   

If you do a workout before your massage, it’s important that you leave about an hour between the end of your workout and the start of your session.  Putting pressure on muscles that have just finished a workout can throw them into spasm, which hurts!  Incidentally this also should be just enough time for a quick shower, or at least give time for your sweat to dry.  Every treatment room is equipped with essential oils, if deodorant just isn’t your thing.  

KEEP CALM AND TAKE DEEP BREATHS

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If it’s your first appointment with us, we have a super simple, stress free, one-pager for you to fill out so that we can get to know you better.  We also have a cozy, wonderful smelling  lounge-y lobby, with filtered water and hot tea available.  

Massage with a full bladder is no bueno.  We recommend trying to use our restroom before your massage, however if you do find that you need to relieve yourself during a session, just let your therapist know.  We have a cozy bathrobe you can wear while you sprint to the potty.  

Once your therapist has introduced herself, she’ll invite you into the treatment room to discuss any particulars about how your body is feeling.  Sometimes the thing that was hurting last week when you made the appointment isn’t hurting anymore, and there’s this new thing that hurts.  That’s totally fine.  At Mantis, we meet you where you’re at in the present moment, and address whatever needs you may currently have.  

After a brief chat, your therapist will exit the room, allowing you a few minutes to undress and get settled.  No, you don’t have to get naked.  Once again, this is YOUR massage, and it’s all about your comfort level.  Take off as much clothing as you feel comfortable.  For most people, this will mean skimming down to your undies or getting naked.  Either way, your special parts will be covered THE ENTIRE TIME.  You’ll be under a sheet and a blanket, and our therapists are experts at moving around your limbs and tucking the sheet “just so” so that coverage is constant and secure.  If you need to leave a bra on, do it.  We’ll adjust.  

During:

SPEAK UP

I cannot emphasize it enough, communication is sooooo important.  Maybe the bolster is uncomfortable, maybe the table is too warm, the music too loud, or you’re just not a fan of essential oils (or you’re a super fan!).  While our therapists will do their best to ask all the right questions, we too are human and may have overlooked something.  If there is any kind of adjustment that will make you more comfortable and reduce your stress, please let us know.  We’re not mind readers (and most of us wouldn’t want to be anyway!).  The same goes for pressure.  PLEASE let us know if you would like more or less pressure.  We won’t be offended!  Every person’s body is different and the experience of pressure is totally subjective.

A NOTE ABOUT PRESSURE

At Mantis Massage, we specialize in Deep Tissue.  But that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we know how to do.  Maybe you usually like deeper pressure, but this week you’re recovering from the flu (Flupocalypse 2018 anybody?) we can adjust accordingly and give you a nice relaxing massage to bring you back to yourself again.  

Pressure is, again, totally subjective.  I usually offer my clients a menu of pressure choices that go in order of intensity from Light to Medium to Firm to Deep.  No matter what’s happening, if you don’t like it, please, please, please tell us.  

Bodies are super interesting and another crazy thing that happens is that some parts of our bodies can handle more pressure than others.  Pressure feels great on your shoulders, but your hamstrings are super sensitive?  Let us know! We’ll adjust accordingly.  

After:

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DRINK. LOTS. OF. WATER.

Hydration is the key to most things in life, and massage is no exception.  Massage is like a passive workout for your body.  During your session we’ve increased blood circulation, improved your range of motion, and increased your breathing.  All of these things take water to accomplish.  Your body needs more of it.  Drink more water!

If this is your first massage, and especially if you asked us for deep pressure, you may find that you have some soreness after your massage.  This is totally normal, and should not be a cause for concern.  There are a few easy things that you can do to alleviate any soreness.  

Take an Epsom Salt bath.  

Stir 2 cups of Epsom Salt (can be found in most grocery stores) into a hot bath.  Sit and relax for at least 20 minutes to feel the benefits of reduced inflammation.  

Take Vitamin C.  

This great vitamin has a host of health benefits including improved mood and reduced pain.  

Sleep on your back.

Remember that position that we had you in where you were flat on your back, with a bolster or pillow underneath your knees?  We do this because it is the optimal position that takes pressure off of your spine and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints.

REBOOK.

Massage is best experienced as an addition to your health and wellness routine.  No therapist can get all the knots out in a single session, and whatever part of your lifestyle created the tension in the first place will probably still be waiting for you after you leave (unless you change it of course!  More on that in a future post!).  Massage has the added benefit of having a cumulative effect on the body, so the more you come, the more effective each session will be.  Coming more often will help optimize your body to heal whatever muscle ache ails you.  Once we’ve gotten you to full zen, you can space out your appointments and come in for regular body maintenance, just like you do with your car or bicycle.  

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QUESTIONS?

Call us!  If you have a question that wasn’t answered here, give us a call and ask away.  Lindsay, our Office Superhero, knows all about receiving massage.  Not sure which therapist to choose?  Lindsay has gotten work done by all of our therapists.  She can help you choose the right gal for the job.  

 

Hygge (And How To Not Electrocute Yourself In The Bathtub)

I do a lot of computer work in the bathtub. (Full battery, no charger connection.) As a matter of fact that's where I am right now. Why do I spend so much time in the bath?  If you are a regular clients of ours you know it's because of Epsom Salts. But also:

Hygge

While I should have been tidying our books and updating staff bios, I was actually perusing our Facebook feed (what do you guys do at work??) and came across a New Yorker story about Hygge. The danish idea of a feeling of coziness is exactly what got me into this bath and like the writer of the story who orders 3 new blankets online because hers is too bumpy, can't find the right scent of candle, and leaves the heat on in her apartment with the window open, I'm struggling with how to execute it.

I think I first came across the idea from a documentary that also mentioned the feeling of flow increasing your overall happiness . I'd link to it but I don't have time to go back and watch the whole thing to make sure I'm citing it correctly so y'all just have to trust me. (As a side note, Happy is a really inspiring film.) My takeaway:

Flow + Hygge = Happiness

Well I've got the flow part down. That's my job! In massage school there's a little evaluation sheet after each clinic shift and Flow is one of the main criteria you'll be judged on. Of course, flow as an intention toward happiness is a little more involved but I really do feel I experience it on a daily basis. Basically, if you can move through your day easily, understanding the expectations and demands and it's within your capabilities to meet them, that's flow. I feel great about the work I do! I do feel like I can meet the expectations and demands of each of my clients and I always leave my sessions feeling refreshed, solid, and like we did GOOD work in there. 

That leaves Hygge.

I understand it to mean feeling cozy and comforted always. So I submerge myself in warm water while I do all my computer work. #AmIDoingItRight? I have no idea.

What I know is that we have very cozy rooms, table warmers at the ready, soft heavy blankets, and excellent Flow ratings on all of our evaluations in massage school. So while I may have to bring my computer in to the Apple store for water damage tomorrow, you can come experience Flow+Hygge in any of our massage rooms, anytime. We've got your perfect equation for happiness.

 

Drunk Anatomy

Hey y'all! Before we get started, can I just tell you how glad I am that I came around to "y'all"? I was really against it at first because I moved to Texas when I was seventeen and to me it was a signifier of the differences between the South and the North so I wanted no part of it. In fact, I treated that word with some majorly unwarranted disgust. Because I was a snot. A teenage dirtbag as we all were and if you weren't, keep that to yourself. Also, you will probably go through a phase in your adulthood to make up for not being a pile of garbage in your adolescence, which is what it's for. So. Watch out. 

ANYWAY, now I embrace y'all because it's easier to say than "you guys" and it's gender inclusive. What more could you ask for from an informal plural pronoun? Not much!

So, how are? How is everything? What do you think of the new website layout? Are you excited about the grand opening of our SoCo location, which will occur in the coming weeks at a to be announced date? Let us know in the comments! If you don't, I will be forced to make the blanket assumption that you are not excited for us and, not only that, wish us harm. (Like teenage me with "y'all." Callback!) I'd like to think otherwise, but when you refuse to interact, you're kind of forcing my hand, y'know?

Unrelated: the muscle of the week is the splenius capitis!

That was actually the only part that was related.

Mmm, debatable.

The splenius capitis is not near your spleen as one might expect. In fact, it's not anywhere near your spleen. It's in the back of your neck! A betrayal of trust, no? I'd certainly say so!

The splenius capitis is located in the back of the neck, stretching diagonally from the base of your skull (near the ear) to your spine (above the shoulders, not super far down). It's involved in head movements, so, with that in mind, you use your splenius capitis when you: turn your head dramatically to look off into the distance; whip your hair back and forth; tilt your head in confusion like a pupperoni; shake your head to silently communicate with someone behind a third party's back; bobbing your head to music because you can't dance and/or have limited mobility; look up at the stars or clouds or signs or anything above your head, really; and also other instances, probably.

Those were actual instances of movement this time!

Thank you for noticing! I anticipated much grumbling and frowning and eye squinting if I didn't come through on this one. I just want you to be satisfied with your Drunk Anatomy experience. Onto the home care portion of this post!

I'd like to preface this by saying, our therapists will work out your splenius capitis better than some loser stretch could ever hope to imagine. Seriously, they've worked on mine and it's like being a dog grabbed by the scruff of the neck except there's massaging and it's therapeutic instead of demeaning.

The super easy stretches for the splenius capitis go as follows: bring your chin to your collar bone, hold it. Or tilt your head down and to the side so your ear is trying to listen to your armpit, hold it.

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?

Drunk Anatomy

S'up nerds! What are you up to? Okay, that's nice, moving on because no one cares and I can't hear you-- I AM WRITING THIS FROM THE PAST; WE CANNOT INTERACT. (But if you really want, you can leave a comment and I might notice. I don't get notifications so it's a gamble!)

I'm going to take a giant leap and assume you're curioso about what's going on with me. Well, yesterday I exercised my civil duty to keep a certain white supremacist out of office and early voted. I went to a courthouse in Oakland and walked around the entire circumference of the building and then once I managed to make my way indoors, I then asked three people for directions. I know, I just glide through life. And today I'm waiting for maintenance to replace my fridge because it's been leaking intermittently. Such Glamour. Glamore! Glamorati!

Look, it's been a long day.

The muscle of the week is the corrugator supercilii!

Glamore and Glamorati are not words.

You! Are! No! Fun! Also, I have an English degree from a reputable university--I know what words are! Ooh, that was real sassy and even more classicist. Forgive me.

Alright, so the corrugator supercilii sounds like some layer terminology. Like, if the corroborating evidence was so absurd that it challenged the severity of a case or made it difficult for the jury to sustain their collective belief. Oh, sorry, are you not all living with lawyers in training? Just me? Okay, never mind, it sounds like a muscle and I just need to get out more.

The corrugator supercilii is located under the eyebrow from the start of your brow (near the nose) to the arch (I'm sorry if you don't have a natural arch, that must be tough.)

Is it underneath your eyebrow as in like south of it or underneath as in layered underneath your eyebrow hairs?

The latter! In terms of layering, it goes the corrugator supercilii, then skin, then eyebrow hairs.

That was a good, relevant question! Well done, my-projection-of-the-reader!

As far as function goes, this may blindside some of you, but the corrugator supercilii is in fact involved in brow furrowing. This is the muscle to thank for the wrinkles on your forehead and between your brows. You use your corrugator supercilii when looking at someone who makes poor life choices; squinting against the sun; squinting against the scent of tea tree oil; feeling e-mo-tion-al; concentrating on something dull; trying to look busy and occupied; grimacing; and other times when you scrunch up your face!

You basically just described emotional responses, not really actions.

You tell me what actions your eyebrows take! Go on, I'm listening. Yeah, I didn't think so.

Due to its location, you can't stretch the corrugator supercilii, but you can delicately massage it. Massage therapists, however, who are licensed in the practice of massage, would be better at massaging your corrugator supercilii than you could ever hope to be.

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?

Drunk Anatomy

This very special Drunk Anatomy coincides with a very special Mantis Massage announcement: we're opening a very special second location! Unbeknownst to y'all, this has been in the works for YEARS. First as an idea, then a goal, and now a reality! It's a very exciting time in the Mantis Massage family and just like the rest of you, I can't wait to see what happens. I bet it'll be cute. I bet there will be string lights and a similar color pallet and MASSAGES.

Okay, that's quite enough sincerity and speculation! Let's move onto some rambling and incomprehensible jokes!

The muscle of the week is...the quadratus lumborum!

A second location! That's cool! Where is it going to be?

Thank you for asking me a question instead of being a jerk and making me feel self-conscious as per usual! The second location will be in SoCo (Where do we stand on that abbreviation? Do we hate it? What's the consensus?) at 2700 South Congress! Can you handle it???

So. The quadratus lumborum. I'm surprised I didn't cover this back when I first started Drunk Anatomy and I was checking off all the obvious muscles. Sure, I started off pretty good with the latissimus dorsi, but shortly thereafter it was like, the pecs and glutes- muscles literally every human being knows. How nouveau anatomy blogger can you get? Ugh, I'm embarrassed for my previous self.

This is a muscle that gets bandied about in our office and after sessions like every day because it's a problem child. It's what we in the medical field call a Jan Brady.

The quadratus lumborum is a bit of a conundrum. It's widely considered to be a low back muscle when it in actuality is just the deepest abdominal muscle. But where does the abdomen stop and the back begin? Is this just a way for us to draw arbitrary muscle lines in the anatomy sand and keep our disgusting body parts separated? Aren't we all just one muscle, the human muscle?

Um, no? We're multiple muscles making up one human?

Open your eyes! Open your heart! Open your torso!

No, don't do that. Everything inside of us is gross and hidden beneath our skin for a reason.

The quadratus lumborum is in the low back and I don't know about you, but I don't really think of the low back as being a particularly active feature. Like, it's not a hopping place. And despite the longstanding tradition of me being wrong and talking at length about things I don't understand, I actually am correct this time!

It helps to stabilize the spine and pelvis, but I cannot for the life of me think of a specific instance or movement. This is going to be the first Drunk Anatomy in history without a list of examples and for that, and only that, I apologize about what happened here today. (And I apologize for nothing else ever. Don't get greedy.)

You're not even going to try?

Look, all I can think of as potentially an example is how Rihanna dances in the "Work" videos, that's all I got.

Now onto the home care portion of this blog! Despite the fact that the quadratus lumborum doesn't really DO anything, there's no shortage of stretches centered around it.

Let me back up just to say that I know that the quadratus lumborum serves a purpose, I get that, but it seems like it does that ALL THE TIME and not just when you, like, do a handstand or something.

Anyway, a stretch! For this one, lay down on the floor and stretch your arms out like you are crushed under the weight of life, feeling like insignificant garbage and you cannot bear to hold yourself up against gravity for another second. Perfect!

Next, keeping your shoulders flat, twist at the hips so that one leg is crossed and laying over the other. It should be draped so much that is passes the bottom leg. Once you've artistically draped your leg, take comfort in the steady presence of the floor underneath you. And then switch legs.

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?

Drunk Anatomy

So this is kind of personal. Kind of sensitive, but I feel that we've reached a rapport and, call me emotionally inept, I trust you, Internet strangers. Just because I know nothing about any of you and you've accumulated quite a bit of knowledge about me from the odds and ends in each blog post, doesn't mean that I don't sense the goodness inside of you. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you the most important, cherished, sacred part of my life.

This thing! Look at how his ears are! Look at how he looks like a little fox/seal! Look at his face! Look at his elegant limbs! Isn't he wonderful? (Say yes. Say yes or I'll find you and mess you up.)

His eyes aren't usually like that, I think he was just blissed out from being at Zilker.

Hey, I think you're confused about this being your diary. It's not, it's an anatomy blog. When is the anatomy going to come into play?

Hold your horses! Wrap your hands around their reins and gently hold them.

The muscle of the week is the peroneus longus! I thought I had done this one already, but apparently not. I get confused about what I've covered because (well, alcohol tbh) a lot of muscles have very similar sounding names.

This muscle, this peroneus longus--if that's even your real name--it is, it 100% is--goes straight up and down in your calves! So you have two of them in your body provided that you have two calves.

It's smack dab in the middle as far as depth goes, but is positioned closer to the knee.

What's your dog's name anyway? Does he have something to do with this muscle? Is that why you intro'd with him?

His name is Hunx! He has nothing to do with the peroneus longus whatsoever. He probably has them if they're in dogs, but I can't be bothered to Google and verify that. The reason I opened with him is because I couldn't think of anything to start off with and I could talk about that little fox for days. He's a very special, very pushy lil guy; there's a lot to say.

Okay, this isn't the Lindsay-talks-about-how-much-she-loves-her-dog portion of the blog, it's the function and examples section!

Despite being inside the calves, the peroneus longus is really there for foot movement stuff and balancing the leg on the foot. Keeping that in mind, you use your peroneus longus to: stand; squat; drop it like it's hot; hullahoop; lunge; tap dance; slide into the splits; nervously shift your weight from foot to foot.

What? That was hardly any examples!

Look, you get the picture! You can imagine from that list when it's being used and, frankly, I don't know of any good feet stabilizing/moving things at the moment so. Just accept what's happening!

To stretch your peroneus longus, first of all, take a load off in a chair. Next, rest your ankle on your opposite knee. Then, take a moment to reflect on your life and how it's not measuring up to what you thought it would be. Once you've thought about that for a solid seven minutes, grasp your foot a bit below your toes and pull it toward the center of your body. Now, as you're stretching and feeling the effects, remind yourself that you're doing a good job of keeping yourself alive day after day and that there's still time. So much time. Whether or not that is comforting is entirely up to your disposition!

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?

Drunk Anatomy

Why do people drink things that aren't Bloody Mary's? Why are we still paling around with other drinks when savory and kind of healthy Bloody Mary's exist? I don't care if I sound like a dad in a Tommy Bahama shirt (that's my dream aesthetic tbfh), they are superior to all other alcoholic beverages. Beer? Who are you fooling? Wine? Why would I want sour grape juice? Other common cocktails? Who needs ya, beat it!

Know what I like but seems too TIMELY to purchase? Silk/satin embroidered bomber jackets. They're so cool looking but they're so RIGHT NOW, does that make sense? I hold onto clothes until they stop being usable (tears, sweat stains, I'm a delight) so I can just hear all the "Oh, is it 2016?" if I'm wearing one a year or two down the line.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE to do with anyTHING?

The muscle of the week is the plantaris!

That was possibly the least relevant intro of all time.

Oh, I'm sure I'll manage to make it even less relevant in the future. Have some faith.

Plantaris doesn't sound like a muscle, right? It sounds like a class of distinction like genus or phylum, don't you think? Let me know in the comments how wrong you think I am!

What's interesting about the plantaris is that something like 10% of the population is missing it! It can't be terribly important if that many people don't have it and probably don't even know that they're missing something. It's like when you fall in love after being single for a long time and never even noticed how empty your life was but here it's with muscles and not intimacy.

Information: the plantaris is a long, skinny muscle and tendon in the back of the knee/calf.

That was 10% information and 90% rambling.

Is that not the ratio we're aiming for? Are you actually here to get as much information on the plantaris muscle as possible? Or are you just here for some general knowledge? If it's the former then we've had a miscommunication about the nature of this blog.

Let me know in the comments if you think I've been unclear about what your expectations should be!

The plantaris helps with flexing the ankle and knee, but sources indicate that it does so just barely and your other muscles could take care of it without contribution from the plantaris.

Times when you use your plantaris but could def still do these actions without: high kicks; pointing your toes; pilates; Tae Bo; the moonwalk; most dancing; strutting; sauntering; swaggering; walking in a normal way that doesn't start with an 's'; jumping jacks; jumping; swimming; trying on a pair of shoes and extending your legs to examine how they look; and other instances!

Let me know in the comments what instances you're outraged that I've forgotten!

No one's going to leave you a comment.

You think I don't know that?

There aren't any stretches that focus solely on the plantaris because as we all know, it's small and relatively useless. If you have a tight plantaris, you probably wouldn't know that specifically--just that your calve is sore. A calve stretch you can do, that you probably learned in P.E., can be done either with a stair or curb. You put your toe on the curb/stair/heightened elevation mechanism and pull your heel down towards the ground.

Voila! You have stretched calves and by extension, stretched your plantaris.

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?

Drunk Anatomy

Hours keep slipping away today and I can't concentrate to save my life! This is probably going to be very scattered! There, I warned you so now you can't be mad at me. Don't come crawling into my comment section about a lack of "coherency" and "logic," okay? You have been forewarned! (I'm kidding, I would love feedback as long as it's constructive. One time someone called this here blog "worthless crap" and I felt like a soggy shoe. I mean, don't pity me because I get paid to write these and that's amazing, but, like, what is that supposed to do other than make me feel bad? TL; DR: I am fortunate but also vulnerable like a young starlet. Jeezy Creezy, this is so self-indulgent, why aren't MORE of you mean to me??)

The muscle of the week is the anconeus muscle! It sounds like a stone or something, right? Like something your counter top could be made out of? Well, it's not and I wish you would take this seriously for once.

That was basically entrapment.

You need to brush up on your legal jargon because that is not the case--pun intended, deal with it. The anconeus muscle is a teeny little strip of a muscle located on the top of the elbow joint going into the forearm.

Some people, who are wrong, think it's part of the triceps brachi, but, again, they are wrong. Some other people, who, you guessed it, are also wrong, think it's a part of a pack of forearm muscles, which is completely disregarding its function and the very existence of the elbow!

Just because it's not as flashy as the hand or as bumpy as the biceps doesn't mean it's not worthwhile!

Your arm wouldn't be the arm you know and love? Tolerate? Are accustomed to? if you were sans elbow and elbow joint.

Do you over identify with this muscle or something? Is that why you're so defensive rn?

Do I over identify with something small whose identity is often erased? You bet your ass I do!

The anconeus muscle helps to extend the elbow, which should come as no surprise because it's in the elbow and not the biceps or forearm. You're using your anconeus muscle when you play tennis; do some choreo; hold your arms out to allow someone to jump into them; when you shoot hoops; when you pretend to be a mummy for Halloween because all you have is toilet paper and no imagination; when you drive; when you're reaching; when you're doing certain swim strokes, techniques or whatever you call them; and then also other times but you get the idea!

It seems like you've been having a hard time coming up with examples these past few weeks.

Maybe I have and maybe I HAVE.

Now you know I'm going to hint at getting a massage for any anconeus and elbow tension you feel, but I want to extra hint at that because our prices will be increasing on September 6th (2016- IDK when you're reading this) so now's a good time to make an appointment! I believe we still have openings before then!

Here's a stretch you can do from home if you just can't wait: fully extend your arm and with your opposite hand pull down your palm so your fingers are pointing to the ground or sky. You can turn your arm either way and it'll hit different muscles, but again, go get a massage!

Lindsay is the Communications Maven at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?