Let's face it; life is not easy. Quite frankly, it's stressful, and when you add being a modern-day superwoman/man to the mix, life goes from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. Between climbing the corporate ladder, chauffeuring and raising well-adjusted kids, and being the partner every lifestyle magazine says you should be, life skips over stressful and becomes downright hard.
These daily, external assaults drain you physically and mentally, creating fissures for emotional and chronic pain to set up shop and wreak havoc on your entire being.
Chronic Pain Manifestation is any discomfort lasting for greater than six months. More specifically, it is a physiological response to something abnormal in the body. Unlike acute pain, which will usually dissipate, allowing for a reasonable quality of life, chronic pain lingers and can continue long after injury or illness has been remedied (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.).
Chronic pain conditions range from headaches associated with migraines and stress to neuropathy, fibromyalgia, cancer, and back pain, to name a few. These conditions are painful. They can also be expensive to manage. Many of those with chronic pain employ prescription and over the counter medications, while never really experiencing sustained relief.
Implications of chronic pain over time can lead to secondary conditions creating a burden for individuals suffering its impacts. If not addressed, chronic pain can be insidious. Eventually, it will find its way into your emotional state and quality of life, potentially resulting in depression, anxiety, sleep disruptions, dietary changes, low energy and widespread pain beyond the primary points of the chronic pain (Dahan, Velzen, & Niesters, 2014).
As a result, you may find yourself operating on a thread, with only enough energy to ensure your family has some semblance of normalcy. At the same time, you may also inadvertently pull away from your family and social circle. Or, perhaps, find yourself even underperforming at work. Countering the toll of chronic pain, up to 85% of patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression (Bair, Robinson, Katon, & Kroenke, 2003). Studies also demonstrate investing in self-care can limit the negative emotional and mental impact chronic pain can have (Sheng, Liu, Wang, Cui, & Zhang, 2017).
By incorporating the following three self-care principles, you can create a personalized plan to manage your stress and protect your emotional and mental well-being.
Safeguard Your Mental Health: Take note of triggers that bring about stressors in your life and meet them head-on. Tense muscles, usually in the upper and lower back and neck, nervous bowel (diarrhea caused by stress) and lack of sleep are only a few signs that stress is creeping in. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as intentional diaphragmatic breathing, massage, and meditation can support you in managing your mental state.
Own Your Physical Being: Your physical body plays a vital role in overall health, and managing this aspect of self-care is critical to protecting your well-being. Ensuring a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 3- 5 days per week, getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are all steps toward an improved mental and emotional state.
Lead with Positive Intent: Positive intent means not buying into your negative self-talk or negative feelings and talk placed on you by others. Each day, start and end with positive affirmations, such as "I have pain but pain does not have me" or "I managed my stress and made a difference at work today." You can do this with sticky notes on the fridge, a lip liner or dry erase marker message to yourself on the bathroom mirror or by writing a message to yourself as you leave, so you see it upon your return.
If that's a bit much, try making yourself a gratitude jar. Write something down each day that you're grateful for, and at the end of the week, during your "me" time, read the messages. Gratitude, though underrated, offers tremendous emotional and mental benefits to those who practice it, including improving happiness and overall health (Harvard Health Publishing, n.d.).
By taking the time to recharge and invest in you, you set yourself up to be the best version of yourself today and for years to come.
References: Bair, M. J., Robinson, R. L., Katon, W., & Kroenke, K. (2003). Depression and Pain Comorbidity. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163(20), 2433. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.20.2433 Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain: What it is & Differences. Retrieved July 06, 2020, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/12051-acute-vs-chronic-pain Dahan, A., Velzen, M. V., & Niesters, M. (2014). Comorbidities and the Complexities of Chronic Pain. Anesthesiology, 121(4), 675- 677. doi:10.1097/aln.0000000000000402 Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can- make-you-happier Improving Chronic Illness Care. (n.d.). The Chronic Care Model. Retrieved July 06, 2020, from http://www.improvingchroniccare.org/index.php?p=Self-Management_Support Sheng, J., Liu, S., Wang, Y., Cui, R., & Zhang, X. (2017). The Link between Depression and Chronic Pain: Neural Mechanisms in the Brain. Neural Plasticity, 2017, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2017/9724371
Massage cupping, or just ‘cupping’ crops up in the news and celebrity pages every now and again, as there are some well-known fans of this treatment, which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques. It’s a massage technique that’s becoming popular in spas and clinics over the country, and it’s one that can be really great for your overall health.
So, what exactly is massage cupping? It’s a healing therapy which was developed thousands of years ago, and involves placing glass, bamboo or plastic jars onto your skin, creating a vacuum which sucks the tissue underneath into the jar. The suction is designed to help boost circulation, relieve pain, and help to stimulate removal of toxins.
Despite having the word ‘massage’ in its name, it’s actually the opposite of normal massage. In traditional massage, a therapist will apply different types of pressure to your muscles and connective tissues. With cupping, the therapist uses suction instead, which pulls skin, muscles and tissues upwards.
What happens during a massage cupping treatment?
Cupping works well on fleshier areas of the body so it’s common for a treatment to involve the back. It’s supposed to be pleasant and relaxing so you shouldn’t feel any discomfort. As the cup is placed on your body, you may feel a tightening sensation, but if you do start to feel any discomfort at all, your therapist will move the cups around elsewhere. Depending on the reason for your treatment, the cups are left in place for varying amounts of time. A cupping treatment is unique to your needs on the day you have it, so your ‘routine’ may well change as different health needs arise.
After a cupping session, your skin may turn red, purple or blue – this is more likely if you have any kind of energy blockage in that area. It usually only lasts a few days but it can last longer, even up to a few weeks if there’s an injury, but it shouldn’t hurt. Once the marks have disappeared, you can have another session, until the health issue you’ve been treating is resolved.
Are there different types of massage cupping?
Yes, there are a few different methods, but the two you’ll be most likely to come across are fixed cupping and moving cupping.
In fixed cupping, the cups are placed on one area of your body and not moved once they are in place.
Moving cupping has more of a massage element as the therapist will use massage oil or cream along with the cups, placing the cups over the areas to be treated and then sliding them around – this type of session is often used for a back treatment.
What is cupping good for?
Cupping is a good all-round spa therapy and is great if you suffer from:
Are you the type of person who puts off getting a massage? Do you think that if nothing actually hurts, you don’t need to worry about it? Many people think the same way and then end up at the massage clinic in pain.
Massage is wonderful if you do have an injury or are already in pain, but why wait until there’s something wrong before you take action? Massage can be part of your preventative therapy, a way to stop aches and pains from developing into anything more serious.
Keep on keeping on
If you, like most of us, have to work for a living, looking after your back and your musculoskeletal system will save you and your employer a lot of stress and money in the future. It’s frightening, but did you know that according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, a staggering thirty-one million Americans say that they are dealing with the symptoms of low back pain at any one time, costing over $50 million dollars in conventional medical treatments, worker’s compensation, and absence from work?
Why risk it when a study that was carried out in 2011 proved that having regular lower back massages helped to relieve the pain before it got to the stage where it needed medication or taking time off from work?
Stress busting massage
Another cause of time off work is stress and/or anxiety, so you’ll be pleased to hear that a regular massage session can help you beat the build-up of stress and keep you calmer for longer. It’s well known that many conditions are brought on or made worse by stress. Scheduling time for regular massage therapy helps to lower your body’s cortisol levels and increase happy hormones serotonin and dopamine, which puts you in a better mood. On top of this, it’s also thought that because massage helps to get your lymph fluid moving, it can help boost your immunity. This means less coughs, colds and illnesses, which is all good.
Beat the pain of inactivity
I know, most of us can’t help it, but the average American sits still for eight or nine hours every single day. If your job means that you have no choice but to sit at a wheel or desk, it will pull your shoulders forward and cause them to become rounded. This has the effect of weakening your upper and lower back muscles, which is why you’ll be feeling that pain in your upper body. If you can manage to get up regularly to do some exercise and team this with a regular massage, your posture will thank you and you should reduce any pain you feel from sitting still for so long during working hours.
Have we convinced you to make a massage part of your regular routine? Of course, it’s not all about preventing illness or relieving pain, having a massage is a comforting and beneficial therapy in itself. Many people book regular massage therapy sessions just because they know they will leave the clinic with a smile on their face, feeling amazing.
It sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? You rarely hear the words ‘mood boosting’ and ‘sofa’ together, but after a long hard day, too many of us collapse onto our sofas, exhausted or in a bad mood from whatever stresses our busy day has handed us.
If you’re like me, once you’re down, the chances of you getting up are slim. So let’s take a look at some easy and quick things we can do to revive ourselves.
Massage and stretching are both recommended for muscle recovery. But how do they relate to one another? Which one works best and when?
Massage therapy is the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue.
· Promotes faster healing of strained muscles
· Reduces swelling and the formation of scar tissue
· Relieves stiffness and tension of muscles
· Helps rehabilitate injuries
· Reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue
Stretching works to counteract tightness and tension built up in muscles that have been working. Stretching while moving or holding a stretch increases blood flow and range of motion, which helps joints stay aligned and muscles to move more effectively.
Stretching and massage work together to keep your muscles flexible and feeling great, this is especially true as we age! Daily stretching to the point of feeling a slight strain will increase your flexibility in just a few weeks. Regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can also release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.
--bye for now!