Even Life's Big Changes Happen Little by Little

Just as it takes a single drop of water, multiplied many times over, to nourish a forest for the season, when it comes to self care it's the little things that add up to become the big changes.


Most of the ways that we take care of ourselves are not a “one-and-done” situation.  If you only showered once, brushed your teeth once, only cut your hair once in your lifetime (or even once a year) you just wouldn’t get the same results that you do by incorporating all of these things into your regular care routine.  

Self-care should be no different.  Changes that we may want to make to our posture, sleep quality, or general stress levels are most likely not going to be achieved overnight.  The good news is that this means that once we make a commitment to “life-improvement” we can never truly fail. Even if we’ve neglected ourselves for a period of time, every day is a new day to start over fresh.  Every day requires the same level of care that all our other days did. Once good habits are established, they become easier and easier to perform.

The 21st century lifestyle means that a vast majority of us are walking around with poor posture (shoulders scrunched up and rolled forward, head and neck forward, mid-back in a forward curve - for an extreme example think hunchback of Notre Dame).  These postural dysfunctions create all kinds of health issues and make tension an ever-present issue. BUT - it can be improved, AND will only happen little by little. Baby steps people!

Try standing with your feet about hip-width apart.  Stand firmly, with your feet planted solidly on the ground with the majority of your weight in your heels.  It also helps of the weight is mostly held up by the outer edge of 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 do you feel?

Chances are that your spine will feel straight and supported, your lungs will be able to expand freely and easily as you breathe, and you will be expending less energy overall to keep yourself standing.  

Just like everything else, maintaining good posture takes practice.  If your muscles are not accustomed to holding this posture, they will likely tire easily at first.  But keep at it. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Before you know it, it will start to feel weird when you’re NOT in this posture.  With reduced tension and deeper, easier breathing, other things in your life may also start to fall into place, little by little.


Moving Through Discomfort


Change can be scary sometimes.  Even when we are unhappy or in pain, change can seem rather uncomfortable or even a tad overwhelming.  As they say, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. But what if the devil you don’t know is actually an angel in disguise?

Life can be oh so complicated, and sometimes it can just seem safer to stay in our respective comfort zones.  Maybe we have these huge areas of tension in our shoulders, but they’ve always been there, and after a while they may even start to feel a little familiar.  We know where they are, they’re reliable, they know us. However, this kind of comfort is actually a far cry from true comfort. These balls of tension may give us the illusion of comfort, but really we know deep down that we’d be better off without them keeping our muscles literally stuck to each other.  

This is where massage comes in.  While we are doing our best to bring YOU into a relaxing state of comfort, we are not trying to make life easy for your knots of tension.  We want them out of there! While the kneading of your knots can sometimes be somewhat uncomfortable, maybe even painful, this is what we like to refer to as therapeutic pain.  This is the type of pain that hurts so good, because you can tell that it’s making your knots of tension uncomfortable. It’s the type of pain that feels worth it, because you can also feel how it is a (sometimes major) change to your musculature.  

In this way, you may have to venture out and leave behind your illusion of comfort, (what’s holding you back and keeping you stuck), in order to reach a true sense of much deeper comfort.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of release, when you can literally feel your muscles letting go of long-held tension.  This may even be coupled with an emotional release. (BTW it is totally ok to cry on the massage table if you happen to feel a sudden rush of emotion!).  We promise we won’t tell.

This may all be taking place on a rather subconscious level.  We may not even realize consciously what we are holding onto, or how tightly or for how long we have been holding onto it.  All of that is revealed to us only when we are able to finally fully release the muscle, and just let it all go. Taking a long, slow, deep breath is a great way signal to yourself and to the universe that you are letting go of something that no longer serves you.  In the end the therapeutic pain of the massage, while seeming downright devilish, may have actually been an angel in disguise.


Where You Start May Not Be Where You’ll End


Life is constantly changing, and massage is no exception to that rule.  A little bit of adaptability can go a long way in helping us humans to cope with the many changes in our lives.  

It happens all the time that at the start of a session, a client may say, “It’s just my shoulder, that’s the only thing that’s bothering me,” and while this IS true at the start of the session, it may actually change as the session progresses.  

What humans and other creatures experience as pain sensation is physically a nerve signal that travels from the area of pain to the brain.  Because of something called Gate Control Theory, only the loudest pain signals will get through at any given time. Also, activation of nerves which do not transmit pain signals, such as those for touch, pressure, and vibration can interfere with signals from pain fibers, thereby inhibiting pain.


This of course, is where the massage comes in.  As Massage Therapists, we are taking control of the gate, inhibiting the pain signals from reaching your brain and instead letting in the friendly signals, the ones that don’t want to hurt you.  What also happens is that sometimes clients will start to feel pain elsewhere in the body, someplace that they have been ignoring. The signal wasn’t loud enough before, and it couldn’t get through the gate.  

So while at the start of the massage it was all about the shoulder, after spending some time on the table you may find that there are other areas that also need to be addressed.  Maybe you started out wanting just a relaxation massage, and then changed your mind mid-way through. Or maybe the opposite is true. You thought you booked your appointment for some real deep body work, but then life happened and day of you really just need to zen out.  And that’s OK! We are happy to be flexible with you and help you help your body figure out what it needs.

And that might change!  Because where you start may not be where you’ll end up.