Warm up with Hot Stone Massage

Finally we see some cooler temperatures here in SoCal! If the rain and chill are getting to you, perhaps you’d enjoy Hot Stone Massage with my colleague Clare Greene. She is offering a special to our clients. Take it away, Clare:

A quiet and peaceful location, with a gentle waft of aromatherapy in the air, spa music in the background, I greet you as you walk in the door.

The temperature in the treatment room is soothing as I begin the session. The stones have been warmed in a specially-designed heater to a pleasing temperature. As your session begins, I strategically place the warm stones on your body and over the sheet or blanket, to insure safety and comfort.

As I begin the actual massage with warm aromatherapy lotion, you feel the sensation of smooth heated stones gliding over your body’s weary muscles.  The heat stored in the stones relaxes the tissues naturally, allowing me to work the muscles deeply.  The session lasts about 70 minutes. $95

Traditionally used by Egyptians and American Indians, stones have a long history of therapeutic healing.  Hot Stones are a form of thermal and magnetic therapy. Recently this technique has come full circle and I am proud to reintroduce its benefits to you now.

Most people find this service to be one of the most nurturing and profoundly relaxing treatments.  Call me directly to schedule your session 949-466-9748. You can learn more about me at my website.

Hot stone massage may not be for you if you are pregnant or have sunburn. If menopausal, hot stone massage could trigger a hot flash.  People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or are on medication that thins the blood should not have hot stone massage.

If you do not fall into one of these circumstances you might find this treatment the magic you are looking for this cold winter.

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Deep Tissue Massage

When I was new to receiving massage I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. I find this is the case for a lot of people. One time I scheduled a Deep Tissue massage. I had left a message with the therapist and she called back while I was out. When I returned my co-worker informed me that the therapist had called back to confirm my Deep Tissue massage. My co-worker said those words like they were magic, like “I don’t know what in the world a Deep Tissue massage is, but it sounds good!”

The goal of Deep Tissue Massage is to penetrate to deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. When I give a Deep Tissue massage, I use a creme instead of an oil or gel so that I’m gliding over skin less and sinking down into the tissue more. I use stretches, engage tendons at their origins and insertions, and endeavor to differentiate tissues that have become adhered to each other. More often than not I combine Deep Tissue with Swedish/circulatory massage to first loosen up the muscles I’m going to work more in depth on. I like to think strategically about how the strain in one area can be caused by tightness or weakness in another area. Because of this I sometimes work where the pain isn’t, in order to relieve pain where it’s felt. This is an excellent massage choice for working on those knots and areas of chronic tension that hinder your free range of motion.

Deep Tissue massage is by necessity slower. It takes longer to sink in deeper. I rarely do Deep Tissue on the whole body. It would take 3 hours and you’d feel as if you’d been run over by a truck. I usually do Deep Tissue on 1 or 2 regions, for example the back and legs. The rest of the body might not need that deep, penetrating specificity. Heat and ice combine well with Deep Tissue massage. I might heat an area first to loosen up the muscle and connective tissue. This allows the body to receive the depth better. I might ice an area after deep work to decrease any inflammation caused by the work itself. This can decrease soreness the client may feel later.

In Deep Tissue massage the therapist may use her hands, knuckles, forearms, elbows, and even feet to achieve the desired depth. But equally important is patience, working with the clients breath, and attention to the body’s willingness to receive the work. Author Art Riggs in his book Deep Tissue Massage (North Atlantic Books 2002) emphasizes working with not on the person’s muscle tissue. He provides this definition.

A simple definition might be: the understanding of the layers of the body, and the ability to work with tissue in these layers to relax, lengthen, and release holding patterns in the most effective and energy efficient way possible. (p. 3)

In Deep Tissue Massage there is less emphasis on pleasure as the primary goal and more emphasis on altering structure and muscle restrictions. This is not to say that the work is not pleasurable. Most clients, once they are accustomed to the benefits of deep tissue work, prefer the increase degree of relaxation, the alleviation of pain, and the longer lasting benefits. (p. 3)

If you’ve ever been intrigued with what a Deep Tissue massage would feel like, let me know. If you’ve ever felt beat up by a Deep Tissue massage, my guess is that the therapist was working too hard to fit some spa menu definition of Deep Tissue massage and wasn’t paying enough attention to your particular body’s needs. Perhaps you’d like to give it another try. Let me know; I’m here to help.

Lomi Lomi massage

At the end of my massage school training, I came across Lomi Lomi massage. It’s a lovely Hawaiian style of massage with a long beautiful history. The massage school I attended leaned more towards the anatomical end of the spectrum (if you can imagine the energetic/chakra flavor being on the other end of the spectrum). It seemed to me that most of my instructors were wanna-be physical therapists. And the end of school involved testing, testing and more testing. So, in this very cerebral state of mind, I was swept off my feet when introduced to Lomi Lomi.

Distinctives about Lomi Lomi

very soulful: this is a massage woven through with prayer. The therapist offers up prayers on behalf of the client as she works. For me, this is silent prayer. I ask at the beginning of the session if there is anything I can be mindful of or pray about for the client as I work. Clients are welcome to tell me something or not. If the client is not comfortable sharing something like this with me, that’s no problem and my prayers are more general, for health, strength, and balance.

long, flowing strokes: Lomi Lomi uses oil to help the therapist’s hands glide over the skin as she works. There are long, flowing strokes that endeavor to recreate the feeling of the waves washing over the shore, ebbing and flowing. There are also some lovely strokes that connect different parts of the body. Swedish and deep tissue massage often treat the body in segments. First we work on the back, then cover up the back and work on one leg, etc. Lomi Lomi has some strokes that start at the feet, run up the leg, over the seat, onto the back and stretch the arm over the head. While this involves uncovering more of the body at one time than other styles of massage, the client is still covered by the sheet appropriately at all times. It’s really a beautiful aspect of the massage that highlights our body’s connectedness.

telling the body’s story: the style of Lomi Lomi that I learned encourages us to hear the story the body is telling. Each person has lived a unique life. Each body carries a unique story. The therapist listens to the story of the person on the table, paying particular attention to places on the body that symbolize certain things like the past and future, the mother and father, and the childhood experiences. There are certain stretches that symbolize different things like unlocking creativity and nurture & claiming strength and protection. I don’t describe all this aloud during sessions unless the client is curious or feels she will benefit from it. One thing’s for sure, my attention is centered on the individual and his or her well-being.

time to pause: space and time just to be present. Our modern world is go, go, go, and keep going more. In Lomi Lomi we intentionally pause between strokes and segments just to be, to witness what is going on in our bodies. We allow time to integrate.

Sound good? Request a Lomi Lomi session in advance when scheduling.

true Swedish

When I made the decision to enter the field of massage, it was a big leap. I had been working in the field of low-income housing for about 10 years. Facing burn-out and lots of grumpiness, I realized that it would be in everyone’s best interests if I sought something new. I had been married for a year at that point and my husband and I knew that we wanted to try to have a kid or 2. So, I wanted a new career that offered flexibility and control over my schedule. I looked into lots of boring things like medical transcription…and then explored massage. Well, it’s obvious that massage won and aren’t we all glad?

I was excited to be entering this new career and wanted to share the news with a friend of mine who is Swedish. I come from a family with Swedish roots and I have always understood this side of the family to be more reserved, stoic and generally conservative. (I’ve always thought of my mom’s side as the hill-billy side, right mom!?) Anyway, I was a tiny bit hesitant to write to my Swedish friend, projecting my family’s conservatism on her and fearing she would be scandalized by the choice of my new career.

Then I remembered Swedish Massage. Well, they must like massage there if it’s named after the country! I felt like an idiot and wrote to my friend without further delay.

In my massage practice I often pair Swedish Massage with other styles of massage. I feel Swedish has so many uses and compliments other modalities so well. But, if I step back and think about what a true Swedish Massage is, I see the following elements:

  • Effluerage –  these are long, gliding strokes, great for increasing circulation and stretching  muscles. (Oddly, all the names of the strokes in Swedish Massage are French.)
  • Pettrisage – these are kneading strokes, great for warming & loosening muscle and connective tissue, making them more pliable and a lot less cranky. On the shoulders, this is where clients say “I’ll give you an hour to stop doing that!
  • Friction – this is when it gets more specific. My thumbs and fingers press into those knots and encourage them to give up.
  • Calestenics – these are stretches incorporated into the massage session. Stretches are wonderful for stimulating joint nutrition (our joints are healthier when they move), bringing awareness to places that are tight and moving your limbs through a full range of motion.
  • Vibration, jostling and shaking – these elements speak directly to the nervous system – “command central” for how much muscle tension you hold. People often say “I hold all my tension in my shoulders,” but we actually hold it in our brains. Confuse and override the nervous system with some jostling and your muscle tension just might go away.
  • Tapotement – these are percussive strokes applied to the body in a rhythmic fashion. Let “Helga” come to mind thumping  on someone’s back. I’ll have you know that I was dubbed Tapotement Queen in my massage class. It’s my one drumming outlet.

So, there you have the hallmarks of a true Swedish Massage. Feel free to ask for this wonderful treat next time you schedule a session. And, a pack of Swedish Fish to the first person to comment on this post. Go ahead, I hang on your every comment.