Cupping Therapy: A New Olympic Event?

michael-phelps-cupping Rio 2016Is there a new Olympic event called cupping? Well, yes and no. Michael Phelps, the most decorated American Olympian in history, knows the answer. He has surely benefited from Cupping Therapy which was evident by circular red spots on his shoulder and witnessed by millions of spectators who enjoyed the recent swimming events held in Rio. Phelps and his healthcare team shined a spotlight on a centuries-old medical modality not previously known to most people. 

We are pleased with the heightened awareness of cupping overall, but especially the surge of questions and an increase in cupping appointments at Amelia Massage Associates since the Olympics aired. Phelps and his teammates brought “medically beneficial” attention to cupping therapy rather than the “celebrity fad” atmosphere that we often see on reality TV shows. Along with our personal acupuncturist and great teacher of Eastern medicine modalities, Dr. Huimin Wang, we thank Phelps and the U.S. swim team medical professionals for bringing cupping to the forefront. 

ancient-cupping-2Where did the ancient practice of Cupping begin?

Medical historians and scholars think that the Chinese are responsible for the first cupping procedures. According to a recent article by Morgan Massage, the earliest recorded use is attributed to the famous alchemist (medieval chemical science) and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.). “Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured,” was an expression during medieval times. ancient-cupping-1

But what is cupping therapy, exactly? And who performs it? According to the ICTA (International Cupping Therapy Association), negative pressure (suction) is used to rapidly facilitate rigid soft tissue release, loosen and lift connective tissue, and drain stagnation while increasing blood and lymph to the skin and muscles in a manner not possible through the use of compression techniques. In its original form cupping involved the use of hollowed out animal horns that were used to suck out and drain the toxins from snakebites and skin lesions. The horn slowly evolved into bamboo cups which were eventually replaced with glass. Today cups are available in glass (stationary or moving cups), plastic, and a newer, more flexible version is made of silicone. The various types have advantages and disadvantages for the practitioner, and glass is recommended for certain ailments over plastic, but they all work equally well and are beneficial for the patient. Chiropractors, holistic physicians, acupuncturists, physical therapists and massage therapists are among the medical practitioners that provide cupping therapy. We recommend certified cupping therapy training or instruction from a practicing physician. 

What are the red circles that appear as bruises? They are not bruises at all; they are evidence of the build-up of toxin, other waste products, and ultimately, the chronic stagnation present within the troubled underlying tissues. The redness shows that the cupping has worked. And unless the cups were to be positioned with extreme force, there are no negative side effects. However, there are CONTRAINDICATIONS: severe diseases such as cardiac or renal failure; ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis; severe edema; hemorrhagic disease such as allergic purpura; hemophilia; leukemia; or clients with dermatosis; destruction of skin; allergic dermatitis, fever; dehydration, and sometimes, muscle soreness, to name a few. For those taking blood thinners and for diabetics, lighter suction is used. 

Simply put, cupping creates an path for the stretching and opening of the tissues in the body. A lifting affect occurs and space is made for fluid to drain toxins and waste from the cells, and that waste is then expelled from the body. 

There are many benefits of cupping but we’ll name just a few so that you will have a basic idea. 

Musculoskeletal pain, tightness, numbness

Arthritis                                                                    High Blood pressure

Sciatica                                                                     Post-surgery adhesions

Rheumatism                                                            Post-injury trauma

Headaches                                                                Vertigo

Bronchial Asthma & Congestion                          Cellulite

Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome      Stretch marks

Michael Phelps and his healthcare team shined a spotlight on a new Olympic event-Cupping Therapy-a centuries-old medical modality not previously known to most people. Now that you know, give us a call.

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Amelia Massage Associates MM11381

904-261-0622

Five Healthy Reasons To Receive Massage Therapy

girl getting head massage
a soothing head massage

Upon hearing the word massage, many people immediately think of going to a spa and spending some quality “me-time.”

Sure, massage can help put your mind and body at ease. But its benefits extend beyond providing you that feeling of comfort and relaxation.

The manipulation of soft tissues has several health benefits that you may not readily realize, and it is due to these effects that massage therapy must be incorporated into your routine.

The following are five benefits of massage therapy and why you should consider it more than just a pampering treat.

1. Relieve stress.

Headache migraine people

Everyone would agree that after a massage therapy session, you simply feel calm and relaxed. In fact, stress relief is one of the primary benefits of receiving a bodywork treatment.

Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t always bad. Stress is actually necessary to perform everyday functions and prevent accidents, such as hitting the brakes when another vehicle suddenly storms in front of you on the road. Too much stress, however, can be detrimental to your health.

Several studies show that even a single session of massage therapy can immensely reduce stress. This is because massage helps reduce your heart rate, insulin levels and cortisol levels. By adding therapeutic massage in your routine, you can feel and look healthier.

2. Improve posture

Businessman With Lower Back Ache

Today’s generation is notorious for bad posture. Desk workers are particularly at risk, as they need to sit for hours on end day after day. And only a small portion of the population takes the time and effort to practice measures that would permanently help them improve their posture. The most common manifestations include pain in the neck, back and glutes.

Thankfully, this can be corrected by receiving massage. Regular massage therapy sessions can help reinforce the natural movements of different body parts, allowing your body to get back on track. It also helps reduce muscle soreness and promotes pain-free posture.

3. Strengthen the immune system

Immune Defense

You might wonder, “How can something done on the outside help improve things on the inside?”

Many might think of this simply as a marketing ploy by massage therapists and spa owners, but there are plenty of studies that back it up.

For instance, one study showed that HIV patients who received a 45-minute massage therapy session 5 days a week for 1 month experienced an increase in production of cells which are considered the first line of defense in the immune system. Massage has also been shown to improve the cytotoxic capacity of the immune system, which is the activity level of the natural “killer” cells.

4. Improve circulation and lower blood pressure.

Blood Circulation

As mentioned, one session of therapeutic massage offers a wealth of health benefits. Just imagine what it can do if done on a regular basis. One of the best long-term effects of massage therapy is improved blood circulation. This is a result of the pressure created during the massage, regardless of the technique used. This pressure causes blood to flow through the congested areas, which then allows new blood to flow in. This also flushes lactic acid from the muscles, the accumulation of which is associated with chronic muscle fatigue and soreness.

Massage can also help patients with high blood pressure. Many think that this medical condition comes with several symptoms. In reality, though, it has none, earning it the nickname “the silent killer.” Massage therapy has been proven to be an effective way to lower blood pressure naturally. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis decreases both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

5. Recover from physical injury.

Full Body Massage

Rehabilitating a physical injury can be a tedious and painful process. Many find that a physical rehabilitation program is insufficient to restore the affected area to its pre-injury state. Massage therapy plays a critical role in supplementing injury rehabilitation procedures. Relaxing the muscles and promoting circulation in the affected area allow blood to deliver much needed oxygen and other nutrients. This helps improve flexibility and range of motion. With the right injury massage therapy, the patient can expect the area to be healed at an accelerated rate.

Studies indicate that there is an increasing number of patients who seek therapeutic massage to heal broken bones and burns as well. Massage can reduce stiffness and improve mobility, two problems often experienced when recovering from a broken bone. Burn patients also report less itching, discomfort and depression after receiving three months of massage therapy alongside their skin rehabilitation program.

Find A Massage Therapist Today

smile woman

It is important to understand that the benefits of massage therapy are more than skin deep. Incorporating this form of self-care into your routine plays a huge role in maintaining your health for years to come. Massage is often viewed as a luxury, but it’s a worthy investment that provides numerous therapeutic benefits. It is recommended to find a professional massage therapist who can help establish a regular treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

 

About the Author

Jonathan Leger is a freelance journalist with a deep interest in holistic medicine and homeopathic care. If you’re ever in Ashville, North Carolina, he suggests you get a massage HERE.

New Research: Use Hot or Cold for Healing Injuries?

Our Awesome Acupuncturist
Our Awesome Acupuncturist at 70.

New research reveals some answers to the old question which remedy to apply when treating our injuries and ailments, heat or cold?

Massage therapists and other therapeutic bodyworkers don’t always agree. Even physicians, chiropractors, and acupuncturists don’t always agree.

Whitney Lowe, Licensed Massage Therapist, author, educator, and premier authority on pain and injury treatment with massage therapy, has just recently posted an article on this dilemma in the November edition of Massage Today, a popular monthly magazine published by MPA Media for massage therapists and other professional bodyworkers.

Often we as bodyworkers raise questions while attending Continuing Education courses and other professional meetings regarding the latest techniques and theories that can help in providing optimal patient/client care. The case for cold vs heat has always been a point for debate among massage therapists and the use of ice has recently come under scrutiny by a number of authors, according to Whitney. Yet in my discussions with various healthcare practitioners through the years, their answer to the heat vs ice query has overwhelmingly been ice. There you have it. But why?

As Whitney states in his publication, cold applications are most commonly used for the healing process of acute (24-48 hours) soft tissue injuries. Cold applications reduce inflammation and can help relieve pain. Our group of seasoned therapists have become comfortable with this treatment plan and see the benefits first-hand, however we and our patients, with regard to specific on-going injuries, have questioned at what point the use of heat might be a better option.

My thought, based on my training and my experiences over the past fifteen years, is that ice works well up to 48 hours, depending on the nature of the injury, of course. Then, the use of heat therapy or a combination of ice and heat has worked well for most.

I remember many years ago when my awesome Acupuncturist recommended to me that I apply heat for a week old TMJ problem. After applying heat I thought I was going to die!  I went back to ice to relieve the pain, but was that the best solution? Probably not.

Here’s why. The initial ice treatments (also called Cryotherapy) were appropriate and did help relieve my pain, along with OTC anti-inflammatory medication ( I am not a pill person…) but after the 24-48 hour cut-off, heat most likely would have helped the healing process by bringing blood flow to the tissues. Heat will not diminish pain like ice and heat is contra-indicated for many patient conditions and diseases, but in my case continuing with heat applications (even though it hurt during the application) would have been the best choice.

The Massage Magazine article states further: “New research indicates the standard guidelines for hot/cold therapy may need to be reconsidered.” In a nutshell, the article shares the argument that with the use of ice, blood flow is decreased and that vasoconstriction with cold applications is more pronounced in some regions of the body, such as the feet and hands. “The effect of reducing circulation is a physiological effect of ice that may not be desirable.” Other points worth considering are Whitney’s statements that “tissue healing is enhanced by chemical mediators carried through the blood stream and reducing their movement may interfere with the tissue healing response.” Additionally, he shares a valid concern that cold applications slow down lymphatic drainage and may have another detrimental effect on the tissue repair process as a result.

Makes perfect sense to me, I think…but I have heard through the grapevine that additional research is on the horizon.

Hot or cold for injuries may stay a dilemma in treating injuries but HEAT, is the ONLY treatment plan for cooking your Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Alternative Medicine An Easy Pill to Swallow

Alternative HealingLet’s face it: Alternative Medicine is an easy pill to swallow, even though Americans live in a society that is encouraged to follow Western healthcare philosophies and procedures, which often include prescribed medications and sign-your life-away procedures, the interest  Prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are often necessary and often not. Ditto for a multitude of procedures we find ourselves considering as our only options through a mindset of “go under the knife or take a pill”. Continue reading “Alternative Medicine An Easy Pill to Swallow”

Are You Balanced?

Cades Cove

Are you balanced ? No, not the kind of balance as if walking on a tightrope or the kind of balance as in “I must have lost my mind,” although it may feel that way getting through our everyday lives as stress free as possible. The questions we should frequently ask ourselves are: Am I balanced as in remembering to bring my life into proportion? Do I stop long enough to find a harmonious equilibrium for my body and mind? You know, that deep-seeded feeling you get while sitting on the back row at a lecture or worship service, thinking to yourself, “is he/she talking to me?” Yup.

The truth is that most of us can not truthfully answer yes to the first 2 questions, but when we are reminded and the light switch clicks, our insight can be a powerful force for change.

As a hard-working massage therapist who LOVES to work, I make myself stop to BALANCE 2-3 times a year. While clients may say, “what, you are leaving again?!?”, I have discovered the art of balancing. And clients enjoy knowing that it helps me provide them a better quality session and also helps to maintain the positive energy (chi) that is mandatory for bodyworkers who desire to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Of course there are many ways (massage, meditation, yoga, retreats, etc.) that can be applied to maintain balance for ourselves, but most recently I enjoyed finding my balance through a “no structure get-away” to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. What a change of surroundings – and with southern accents thicker than mine! Beautiful, cool and refreshing. A kaleidoscopic panoramic holiday!

So let it not be said by anyone that I am not “balanced…” and yes, I am booked solid, non-stop since I returned to work.” Oh well…Are you balanced?

Benefits of Regularly Scheduled Massages by Amelia Massage Associates

Prolonged Relaxation from Regular Massage at Amelia Massage AssociatesLike exercise, the benefits of regularly scheduled massages quickly show… even a monthly treatment can help maintain or even improve general health. Your body strives to maintain optimum health by keeping all of its systems in balance. Along with proper nutrition, exercise and rest, massages from Amelia Massage Associates relax tense muscles and stimulates the body’s communication lines to help it do its job — and to keep you feeling your best. So, make regular massages a priority in your life for a healthier tomorrow!

You can’t beat massage for relaxation and to manage stress and pain. Many still are of the opinion that massage is an indulgence, but science is proving time and again that massage is a medicine or as Tiffany Field PhD, founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, puts it:‘Massage belongs in the same category with proper diet and exercise as something that helps maintain overall health.’

How often is “regularly scheduled”?

At Amelia Massage Associates we feel that our Six-Pack of Swedish Relaxation Massages gives you the opportunity to schedule at least regular intervals, whether that is once a week, twice a month or once every 4 to 6 weeks.

It is an established fact that one single massage will make you feel better. There’s the sense of relaxation and well-being that one feels during and after a good massage. Muscles are less tense. Headaches are relieved. Sleep comes more quickly and is of higher quality.

A regular scheduled massage at Amelia Massages Associates will alleviate chronic pain, stress and discomforts. It’s a also fact that inside of a fifty minute session, even the most experienced massage therapist can only focus on so many parts. That’s why a good therapist develops a certain routine, designed for the client’s particular needs.
By making massage a regular part of your healthcare, you give the therapist the tools to work on a systematic relief.

The benefits of regularly scheduled massages from Amelia Massage Associates puts quality into your life.

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I Am Addicted to Ceviche and Costa Rica

photo 2 copy 4Here I am, at 0630, on the balcony deck of our suite, De la Luna, nestled among the plant and animal life of Villa Tortuga in the beautiful sector of Guiones in Nosara, Costa Rica. I was awakened by the sounds of the landscape caretaker gently raking the leaves from our poolside tropical paradise. Melodic birds now welcome me and I hear monkeys in the distant surrounding jungle. Otherwise, I am alone with my thoughts and senses of this endearing place.

“No shirt, no shoes…..Nosara,” the get-away experience of a lifetime when you comprehend that true value often means less is more, when your surroundings are primarily in the form of pure natural habitat, when the locals happily “make do” with what they have at hand, and recycle EVERYTHING. I have graciously embraced their example.

Our son and his new wife-and a wonderful, lovely, gracious new daughter for us, wisely chose this soul-soothing place in her birth country to become as one spirit, husband and wife, on December 7, 2013, at La Luna, with a Sunset Barefoot Wedding on the beach, surrounded by family and friends. I am not biased when I share with you that every couple desiring to tie the knot should consider a heart and soul celebration like this one! Rose petals gently hugging the sand guided the bride to her groom, waiting for his lady. The sun would set soon, as if on cue just for this one moment in time, with the ocean as the canvass and the ebb and flow of the waves, the music of the night. Poems they had written to each other over the past few years were recited by their lifelong friends. Beautifully written self-authored vows were exchanged while the emotions of family and friends peaked as the sights and sounds of the couple’s officially pronounced love evolved before us. I envision that they will renew their vows here so that we may come back someday, with no excuses born through thoughts of why we could not return.

Although we are challenged with a slight language barrier, we have been embraced by the local people and made to feel comfortable in an environment that encourages us to learn the language and more about the Central American culture. The people are proud, happy, accepting, friendly, and helpful. We feel welcomed.

Ceviche!

I am addicted to this wonderful dance on my taste bud palette! The locals tell me that there are varying recipes of this unique and delectable dish, so I have requested it either as an appetizer “shot” or an entree at every meal except breakfast. Every version has been tasty, but the best dance by far was prepared in the suite kitchen of Casa Tortuga, just a Costa Rican coconut throw from my balcony, by a friend of the bride’s family. Aha! She is from Peru, where the dish originated. I have been to Ceviche heaven. The preparation of firm white fish such as Tilapia, marinated overnight in lime juice, garlic, red onion, and fresh cilantro, will be high on my “to do” list when I return to Amelia Island, Florida, my homeland paradise. Perhaps “Ceviche Amelia” will become a new menu selection that even the island’s namesake, Amelia, the daughter of King George II, surely could not have resisted!

The Shores in Costa RICABut after the first 2 days of enjoying consistently happy bellies, we realized that there were non-edible adventures yet to be discovered. The beach. Surfers from all over the world and all walks of life know and love this place of perfect waves, continually welling, rising, and flowing ashore, then dissipating into the wide sand berth. It is a beautiful scene, a picture framed by mountains that lazily rise above Passion flowers, Hibiscus trees, sand, driftwood, and coconut remnants: an open invitation to a special place unspoiled by corporate landmarks, private estates, vending machines, strewn trash, and vehicles. A sanctuary, comforting, like the sight of a hungry baby bird upon the return of its mother to the nest.

The mountains. The song lyrics, “over the river and through the woods” came to my mind as four of us traveled single file on ATV’s. We all gave close attention to the terrain-and our guide-wIth ONE OF US  EXHIBITING WHITE KNUCKLE SYNDROME part of the way. But once I remembered to BREATHE, I convinced myself that this excursion was not a parachute jump after all. I could do this! At the beginning of our journey we traversed modestly paved roads, some laced with fallen coconuts, and slowly migrated to unpaved, rough, rocky roads, narrow dirt trails and NARROW HANGING BRIDGES met by shallow rock-filled streams that gently flowed intermittently between pastureland and jungle. Costa Rican “stop signs” in this mountain range existed in the form of domestic dogs, free range herds of cattle, sheep, chickens, ducks, horses, and cowboys on horses. After 2 hours of exploration and many memorable moment notches in our belts, we were delighted to see below us a breathtaking view of the entire region of Nosara.

The Wedding, Teak Wood, Gilded Iguanas, Black Monkeys, Red Squirrels, Humming Birds, Butterflies, Tica Massage, Surf Boards, Turbo Golf Carts, Imperial Beer, Patron Tequila, Guacamole, Lizano Salsa, Los Cabecares Sikewa Coffee, Ceviche! and the SWPMCN (Special Wedding Party Macaw Communication Network) are the things that will forevermore bring to mind fond memories of being here…this majestic place. Costa Rica!

Nancy Shores

The Healing Power of Music and Massage

piano copyWhen it comes to the healing power of music and massage, George Skaroulis, an award-winning pianist and composer known for his ethereal and soothing piano style, said it best: “I have always claimed if I were not a musician, I would be a massage therapist.”

Conversely, I have always felt and expressed to many that if I were not a massage therapist, I would be a musician. And since both music and massage are known to promote healing, it is not surprising to me that my caregiving nature absorbs and reflects the best of both worlds in my career as a Licensed Massage Therapist.

Massage Today, a news source for the massage therapy profession, correctly stated in the September 2013 edition that for many of us, music is a vital part of our daily life’s soundtrack. It can serve to motivate or relax, and becomes essential for the purpose of massage therapy to set the stage for a peaceful massage experience.

I can’t imagine a world without music nor can I imagine a world without massage! When these two powerful healing mechanisms come together, the ultimate peaceful and transcending massage experience-for both the giver and the receiver-can evolve.

But it requires more than just a CD playing in the background, accompanied by a good therapist. It is important to consider that no two massage practitioners are alike and no two musical arrangements are alike.

Why Attuning makes the difference?

Attuning evolves into a harmonious or responsive relationship. An “in tune” or specific focus, originating from the core of the therapist and directed toward the client, is the deciding factor. The therapist must detach from all external thoughts and become one healing entity with the client. This sometimes involves the use of aromas specifically chosen for the client as well as specifically chosen music to induce relaxation and a private escape to their healing zone. The therapist has to FEEL the music to provide uninterrupted free-style (intuitive), rhythmic movements, ebbing and flowing like the tide.

Clients often share with me that they KNOW when I have entered the ZONE with them. Believe me, if the therapist is not attuned, the client feels that too!

Through an appreciation of music and a desire for a less stressed world, we, as therapeutic massage healthcare practitioners, can provide not just a massage, but a massage replete with the healing dynamics of techniques not discussed in massage textbooks: Pianissimo, Mezzo-Piano, Crescendo and Forte. Sorry, but heavy metal will probably not do the trick when it comes to the healing power of music and massage.

Nancy Shores, MT, LMT, Esthetician , ML (Music Lover)

Paying Attention To Client Kneads

Too Much Pressure comedy from Amelia Massage AssociatesMy spouse and I, as new licensed massage therapists and business owners back in 1995, knew from the beginning that we wanted to exceed customer expectations. There would be no cliche’ here. Our passion easily lead us to talk the talk AND walk the walk. We felt that to “say less and give more” would separate us from other therapeutic massage providers and we knew we did not want to build our business on a foundation layered with a mindset of “get ’em in, get ’em out.”

We are lucky in that we love what we do and excelled early in our careers, learning and applying techniques that brought personal growth to us and positive results for our clientele.

‘Paying attention to client kneads’ was my first thought for the title of this article because, sadly, we hear too many concerns from clients that their needs have not been acknowledged when receiving massage therapy at other establishments, not only in Florida but all over the country.

Clients’ complaints include services provided by privately owned massage practices as well as large corporate-owned businesses. I know that most credible licensed schools of massage therapy teach the importance of providing an information intake form for clients-and the importance of reading and paying attention to client needs, as provided on the Client Intake/Information Form.

So I wonder….why some of us, as professional licensed massage therapists, are not more attuned to this fundamental step in providing clientele the best possible outcomes. As I have mentioned in a previous article, ‘It is not my massage, but the client’s massage.’  It is imperative that we be able to adapt and follow through appropriately to meet client needs and hopefully exceed expectations. We want the client to remember us for the right reason!

Above all, the information submitted by the client is intended as a guide for us to administer a safe, considerate, respectful, compassionate and results-oriented experience, so why not Pay Attention To Clients’ Kneads?

Nancy Shores, MT, LMT, Facial Specialist

Your Skin Loves Periodic Facials

Lighten-your-Skin-Tone-with-these-Amazing-Tips-1The skin of our face is the most exposed organ in our body and that is exactly why your skin loves periodic facials. We tend to take our skin for granted, of less importance than our other organs, but this should not be the case. Skin is the largest organ of our body! Skin and its associated structures such as the hair, nails, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands, is called the ‘Integumentary organ.’ Sounds important, doesn’t it? Well, it is, yet most of us are lacking in giving it the health maintenance attention it deserves.

Skin, the principal foundation of the sense of touch, is regarded as the covering component for the protection of deeper tissues. It is a complex, layered system which includes both excretory and absorbing functions and plays a very important role in the regulation of body temperature.

The function of the skin, just barely “touched on” here, (yep, I love puns!) is impressive to me and I don’t know about you, but I surely wouldn’t wanna be caught naked without a well maintained Integumentary organ.

Seriously, we all know about the harmful effects on our skin from prolonged sun exposure, environmental pollutants, aging, illness and stress. But if your skin damage occurred long before you had a good understanding of the long-term effects, you can take charge now, today. Your commitment to receiving a professional Facial on a monthly or quarterly basis is a great way to start.

What’s not to love about taking one pain-free, relaxing hour for yourself to maintain the skin most exposed to the elements 365 days a year? Do something positive and healthy- call us today for an appointment for your periodic facial. Yes, this means you, too, MEN!

Nancy Shores, MT, LMT, Facial Specialist

What is the Intense Pain in your Heel?

Treatment of the Policeman's HeelA high probability is that the stabbing intense pain in your heel is called Plantar Faciitis (PF). The condition is typically characterized as intense stabbing pain in the heel, especially on awakening and beginning your day. But guess what? It can occur after any period of physical activity. I don’t know about you, but neither of these timeframes-to experience intense pain in my heel-is optimal for me.

I think back to my own first episode of PF every time I try to provide relief for the unlucky client who is experiencing this menacing condition, which can be short-term or chronic. But even if short-term, there is nothing ‘short’ about it in terms of the pain level and dysfunction it can cause. Sadly, by the time the client comes into the massage center with PF, we see a hobbling body accompanied by a grimacing face.

What is the medical definition of PF and what causes it? It is an inflammatory process of the connective tissue (fascia) on the bottom surface of the foot (plantar). It is often caused by overuse of the plantar fascia or arch tendon and is surprisingly common, affecting over two million Americans every year. I had no idea how common PF is until I became a massage therapist. And when I experienced it myself, I learned how difficult it can be to treat if preventive or corrective therapies, such as arch supports, ultrasound, massage, and stretching, are not applied. For a barefoot kind of gal, this was an awakening for me.

How does the process of PF start? It is associated with long periods of weight bearing; thus the nick-name: ‘Policeman’s Heel.’ In non-athletic populations, it is associated with a high body mass index, but many whom we treat are at a healthy weight and often, thin.
Pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel. Another symptom is that the sufferer has difficulty bending the foot so that the toes are brought toward the shin (decreased dorsiflexion of the ankle). Frequently there are complaints of associated knee pain, especially among walkers and runners.

Think of plantar fascia as your body’s shock absorber. Throughout the day, the fascia supports the arch of your foot to carry the weight of your body. When any impact is too great, tiny tears will appear in the fascia. If the impact level continues, the tears become inflamed. Eventually the excessive wear to the fascia causes the inward rotation of your foot. Wearing unsupportive footwear (who, me?), obesity, inactivity, poor weight distribution due to faulty foot mechanics, or sudden changes in weight distribution (in my case, racquet ball) are all contributors.

What can happen if PF is not treated? Chronic degeneration can develop which then becomes Plantar Fasciosis. ‘Osis’ implies a pathology of longstanding degenerative changes without inflammation. A host of new issues can develop as your body mechanics try to adjust for the foot pain. Chronic knee, hip, and back pain are common complaints.

The good news is that noninvasive treatment is available. Most treatment plans focus on having you temporarily avoid the activity that caused the inflammation. Yes, I know this part of the plan is difficult for many of you, but it is a necessary part of the healing process.

Your feet serve as your physical foundation! If you think you have Plantar Fasciitis, a consultation with your primary care physician or podiatrist will provide the diagnosis and a good start to recovery. For a good finish, come see us or visit a massage therapist in your area soon.

Nancy Shores, LMT

The Birth of the Amelia Massage Giraffe Logo

Amelia MassageThe Birth of the Amelia Massage giraffe logo goes way back. How long can you hang around to hear the story? This is our response to the frequently asked question about the birth of Yin Yang, our sweet, but sometimes stressed out giraffe who WANTS HER NECK MASSAGED frequently.  Sometimes I think she would rather have her neck massaged than eat.  Seems Yin’s previous caregivers were not into therapeutic neeeecccckkkk massage.

Kneadless to say,  we have come to enjoy having her around-on all our advertising media-and she has proven to be a worthwhile brand for marketing purposes. Interestingly, we had very little knowledge of brand marketing when, in 2000, we welcomed the first client to Amelia Massage Associates, Inc. Our chosen name sounded business-like and ethical and it was different from the other massage establishments in the area. Our mindset was that the name would last the long run and allow us to evolve into a broad spectrum of services and personnel.

‘We do necks’

It seemed appropriate because Michael Shores, my spouse and founding partner of Amelia Massage Associates, developed quite a following very early in his career of clients suffering from chronic neck issues who showed marked improvement after just one or two sessions.  (The golfing industry thanked us for this.) Those early clients still come in to see us on a monthly or quarterly basis for therapeutic maintenance. Obviously Michael was passionate about the work and had very special talents from the beginning. Word of mouth spread quickly throughout the region. To this day, we get calls from clients who visit Amelia Island every year or so and the  conversation goes like this: “Is this the place that has the giraffe neck? I was there last year and there was a guy who really helped my neck. My therapist back home wants to talk to him. Can I get in this week while I’m in town?’

Our therapists continue to study and consult with Michael to learn how to reproduce his results. It takes a special knowledge of neck anatomy, and  many hours of hands-on ‘practice,’ of course, but more important, good results are best achieved through slow, specific techniques.  Another key element that we have learned from Michael is patience on the part of the therapist. And last, an understanding of what not to do and why.

Now, the rest of the giraffe story

In 1983 I received a phone call from my mother asking me if I was sitting down. Immediately,  I asked her if Dad was ok and she said yes. “Are you sitting down?” Even though I am not a ‘sitter,’ I sat down and listened to the most unexpected news, good news, and an unbelievable conversation ensued. The journey of a lifetime was about to begin.

My sister and I had known since we were five and six years old respectively, that we were adopted children. We were lucky. We were kept together, in a wonderful Norman Rockwell All-American environment, with loving parents who could not conceive. We were chosen.

My journey has taken me to four siblings I never knew existed. My adoptive mother had told me during the now infamous phone call that the caller, my newly discovered mystery sister, had just informed her that she had reason to believe there were several other children (full blooded siblings) born to the biological parents. It was thought that three children had been kept (now referred to as The Keepers, or K 1, 2 & 3) and four children had been adopted (now referred to as The Throwaways, or T 1, 2, 3, and 4).

Seven children! Same mother and father! Some kept! Some not! My adoptive mother had known only about the two of us and had unconditionally given us a  loving home. She later shared with me that she would have taken them all, had she known.  I was trying now, in the deepest recesses of my brain, to fathom my transformation into being a middle child, rather than being the baby sis that had felt very comfortable all my life. I was strongly bonded to my big sis, the one I respected and looked up to, the one who taught me many valuable life lessons, the one who helped me (MOST of the time), whatever the need, the one and only one who shared my fate. We were tight and I couldn’t wait to talk to her about this unbelievable new adventure for both of us, an adventure born of Facts Much Stranger Than Fiction.

My mother was telling me to call my new sister NOW. “She is waiting for your call.” NOW. NOW? What do I say? I am a basket of nerves. I am breathing too fast, laughing and crying at the same time!

What a wonderful experience it has been to enjoy all these new brothers and sisters with whom I did NOT have to share a bathroom. And I think only one of them can cross one eye while keeping the other eye in focus. (Based on the obvious competitive nature of most of the siblings, and upon reading this, they will say they CAN do it.) And yes, I am the favorite one. They all like me best- and so did mom. I just can’t help it!

Fast forward from 1983. Our first grand union, with six of seven siblings in one place at one time, happened in 1995. (The word re-union does not fit here because all the adoptions took place during our infancy).  During the fanfare of who looked like who, who played what sport, who sang in the chorus, how many nieces and nephews, career paths,  etc. , I think we all felt a sense of being center stage, the dog and pony show contestants. The adoptive parents and extended families seemed to huddle in awed conversation, staring at us, sharing the amazement of their common experience-and their appreciation for the ones responsible for our ‘private placements’.

So much fun, such joy to see yourself in all of them.  And they all were tall. And they all had long necks!!??.

It didn’t take long for the sick humor to begin: “Mom always loved you best; I was the neglected middle child; I never told you that I’m the one who hid your make-up prom night; I’m the one who told Dad about the night you snuck out of the house and drove the car and put that big dent in the fender. Now you know why he always said I was the responsible one.”  “Just sayin’.”

Giraffe paintings, figurines, salad forks, key chains, jewelry, coffee mugs, lamps, Christmas ornaments, stuffed toys, purses, tee shirts, sleepwear, and even giraffe themed unmentionables began to keep the postal clerks busier than usual between Utah, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Florida. So much fun. And such a blessing for all of us, especially when as adults, we could emotionally handle the ‘why did they give us away’ question. I can speak only for myself at this junction in the journey, and that is to say that I found a confidence I had not known before. To have questions answered, and to see and touch a part of your roots should never be taken for granted. I am grateful.

They all have long necks.

Nancy Shores, MT, LMT, Facial Specialist

Statement: Siblings, their parents, clients and friends contributed these pictures and paintings and many more through the years.

A Massage Therapist’s Best Teacher is the Client

amelia island massagesYou’re right, a massage therapist’s best teacher is the client. Meeting client needs and exceeding expectations is a perpetual desire of our massage therapy team and a big part of the equation is listening to the client. Clients can be great teachers!

One of the most powerful lessons that I have learned in 17 years of my very rewarding career is that we, as professional bodywork practitioners, should not strive to provide “a massage” or “my massage,” but the client’s massage.

I often tell new therapists that an important part of the school of massage therapy begins after graduation, in the massage establishment, with the client. It is not just the client’s written input and obvious body mechanics, but also their verbal input and feedback that teaches us.

Clients have a way of instilling confidence in newly graduated therapists and often share information that can be helpful to both new and seasoned therapists who desire to grow in the business of therapeutic massage and bodywork. There is always something new and beneficial to learn. The sky is the limit!

Before I became a licensed massage therapist, I worked for a well respected cardiologist. I will never forget the day he came out of a patient’s exam room, stood in the middle of the hallway, and muttered to himself: “Listen to your patients.” To this day I admire him for that and it was a good lesson for me as a wife, mother, medical laboratory technologist, and future massage therapist. I remember thinking many times since then that if I keep my mouth shut and my ears open, I might learn something.

Sometimes we therapists (and other medical professionals) can get caught up in what we know rather than what we don’t know. First and foremost, we will always practice conservatively with regard to client safety (do no harm) and remain within the scope of our practice. In addition, we will always strive to increase our knowledge by taking a step back, then a step forward to expand our horizons by truly listening and then following through to meet the needs (kneads) (sorry, I had to do that…) of our clientele. It’s not my massage, it’s the client’s massage.

One of our greatest joys in the practice of massage therapy is the camaraderie established through a professional and caring rapport with our clients. They are truly our best teachers. We are blessed to be able to do this work and look forward to listening to our next great teacher.

Nancy Shores

An Incomplete List of Therapeutic Massage Benefits

working on the beach of Amelia IslandLiving on Amelia Island, however joyful and relaxing, does not eliminate the need for a regular therapeutic massage. Even if your computer works WIFI on the beach, your posture needs adjustment from time to time.

If the thought of improving your overall well being and feeling great on a regular basis appeals to you, the benefits of therapeutic massage await you. You will feel a welcoming difference when the effects of massage remove your need or temptation to pop a pill because-unlike a pill-, massage is a non-invasive modality that will help you maintain good health – with no nasty side effects.

JUST A FEW EXAMPLES OF MASSAGE BENEFITS TO YOU:

• Enhances overall well being

• Improves circulation

• Promotes a state of general relaxation

• Relieves muscle spasms

• Improves muscle tone

• Redirects negative energy

• Promotes good digestion

• Relieves head, neck, & back aches

• Helps with sports injuries

• Helps with fender bender injuries

• Helps relieve tension

• Helps relieve negative & pent up emotions

• Stretches tight muscles

• Improves self esteem

• Increases nutrient distribution in the body

• Helps prevent wrinkles

• Helps with menstrual cramps

• Helps stimulate cell activity & hair growth

• Relieves tired sore muscles

• Increases joint mobility

• It feels great!

DON’T YOU DESERVE AFFORDABLE QUALITY HEALTHCARE?

Nancy Shores, MLT, LMT, Esthetician

Therapeutic Massages Are For Everyone

ameliaislandmassages.com: everyone needs a massageHere at Amelia Massage Associates we enjoy a wonderfully diverse clientele from expectant mothers and babies to seniors, who all agree that therapeutic massages are for everyone. The palate includes young newly weds-post wedding ceremonies-desiring to relax into their first year of wedded bliss; overloaded middle age career executives who have forgotten how to relax, but are earning big bucks; serious recreational weekend warriors frequently finding themselves on the injured list; seniors who have been there, done that and now seek to improve the quality of their lives through therapeutic massage and bodywork.

The latter group is increasing, partly due to the sheer numbers of baby boomers and retirees, and partly because of an awareness of what massage can do for seniors.

We all recognize that aging is not for sissies and otherwise, is unavoidable-if we are lucky enough to age. The good news about aging is that we can take steps to improve and maintain our strength, flexibility, coordination, energy, and mental well-being no matter how many birthdays we’ve celebrated.

Ask our 65-80 plus age group. Golf scores improve, bike rides net more than a wobbly trip around the cul-de-sac, breathing during swimming becomes easier and deeper, and that Arthur Ritis guy no longer wears out his welcome. Grinning from ear-to-ear and feeling great from head-to-toe, seniors can’t wait to schedule the next appointment.

What’s not to love about therapeutic massage? It is an honored tradition. Ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Japanese, and Arab medical literatures frequently refer to massage as a health treatment.

History tells us that Hippocrates prescribed massage for patients and athletes. Today, therapeutic massage and bodywork is routinely prescribed for relaxation and health in Europe, Asia, Canada, and increasingly (yes!) in America.

Many licensed massage therapists have extensive training that includes techniques, anatomy and physiology, and most important, the knowledge of when and when not to massage. Advanced training and certification in Lymphatic Drainage, for example, is one growing area of need, especially for seniors, and this expertise was recently added to our practice.

Help for Specific Problems

Research shows that massage loosens muscle tension, increases circulation, and calms the nervous system.

Specific Benefits of Massage for You:

* Relieves pain from tight, overworked muscles.
* Improves mobility of joints.
* Improves posture and coordination
* Relieves dry, itchy skin
* Deepens sleep
* Reduces swelling
* Heals injuries faster
* Calms the body and mind
* Increases vitality, energy, and mental alertness

Important to Know:

Frequency is usually more important than the length of each massage.
Because the effects of excess stress and/or wear and tear on the body and mind can be cumulative, managing stress becomes increasingly important with age.

Trivia Question:

When was your last massage?

Nancy Shores, LMT, Esthetician

Qi Gong, the Ancient Chinese Secret for Relaxation and Better Health

Surrounded by beauty and peace. QiGong is liberating.

Surrounded by beauty and peace. QiGong is liberating.Known as the mother of Chinese medicine, Qigong (pronounced chee-gong or chee-kung) is an ancient mind-body discipline that integrates postures, breathing, and focused intention. Qi Gong is the ancient Chinese art of relaxing, rejuvenating, and healing the body and mind. It consists of exercises that boost the flow of qi (pronounced chee), the universal life force (energy) within the body.
After spending two days a week for ten years with a well respected colleague, Dr. Huimin Wang, my acupuncturist and my friend for life, I began to truly understand what I once thought to be weird, “out there” medicine. The proof for me was in the results I experienced after his treatments. I’ve learned so much from the good doctor and often call him for patient/client consults when either massage or western medicine do not provide a total remedy for those who seek our help.

Dr. Wang has taught me that qi flows through the body along channels called meridians. As long as this flow is smooth, the body remains healthy. But any blockage or imbalance of qi can quickly result in illness.
It is unknown how qi gong actually works, but many suspect that the mechanism is hormonal in nature. I’ve talked with three clients who practice qi gong and they have related to me that after several years of practice, they seldom, if ever, get a cold.

Dr. Simon Wang, MD, PhD and co-author of QiGong for Health & Longevity states that qigong has also been shown to be effective in many clinical studies.
In a controlled study at the Shanghai Hypertension Research Institute, subjects showed improved cerebral blood flow after 12 months of qi gong training. Headaches, high blood pressure and several other ailments are associated with reduced blood flow in the brain. The same study showed reduced levels of blood lactate, suggesting a beneficial reduction in metabolic rate.
Studies show that QiGong experiences a marked rise in alpha brain waves, and the waves study conducted at the Traditional Medical College in Bejing showed the clear association with a calm, alert state of mind.

How to Practice QiGong

There are many types of qigong and all involve the flow of qi via meditation, breathing exercises and self-massage. You can practice while standing, sitting or lying down and, of course, anywhere you can find peace and quiet.
Outdoors is the optimal place to practice because the flow of qi is stimulated by fresh air and close proximity to plants.
All relaxation techniques are more beneficial when performed everyday on a life-long basis. Strive to devote 20 minutes each morning to learning qigong, and within two months you should feel calmer and more refreshed.

Relaxing Your Mind

Lie in bed or sit cross-legged on the bed or floor. Relax. Concentrate on breathing naturally for one to two minutes. Next, concentrate on “guiding” qi to an area that you visualize deep within your brain, just behind your forehead. Think of this area as a glowing red or yellow light or think of it as a green meadow or ocean waves, for example. After concentrating on your image for about five minutes, a sense of calm should wash over you.QiGong Practice

Rubbing Your Hands

Shift your focus from your head to your palms. Gently rub your palms together for a minute or two. Then use one palm to rub the back of the other hand for a minute or two. Reverse hands and repeat, breathing naturally throughout the exercise.

Bathing Your Face

Close your eyes. Gently press the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper front teeth. Cover your face with your palms, fingers pointing upward. Using both hands, rub your face from forehead to chin. Then rub your face again from chin to forehead. Repeat 20 times until your hands and face feel warm.

Rubbing Dan Tian

The Dan Tian point, located in your lower abdomen, is one of the most important of all qi cavities.
Close your eyes. Using your right palm, rub your abdomen just below the navel, in a tight, circular pattern. Repeat 20 times.

Rubbing Yong Quan

Yong Quan is a key cavity in the center of the sole of each foot.
Place the fingers of your left hand against the bottom of your right foot, at the point where the arch meets the ball of the foot. Rub rapidly in a circular motion 20 times, concentrating on the Yong Quan point. Switch to your right hand and left foot and repeat.

Hopefully, with practice, you will find these simple techniques to be a helpful stepping stone to living a happy, peaceful, healthy life.

Nancy Shores
LMT, Facial Specialist

Words of Wisdom:
“Worry is helpful only when it spurs us to take action and solve a problem.”

Regular Massages Remove Old Age

Massage a day keeps the doctor away

Massage a day keeps the doctor awayMassage means interaction, which is why regular massages remove old age.

Whenever we touch the body, changes in our body will occur, both physically and emotionally. Not only will it affect the particular part touched, but the whole body will react as all our senses will respond.

Massage increases the production of white blood corpuscles and antibodies, which provide more resistance against viruses and diseases. This supports the defense mechanisms in the body and increases immunity towards environmental changes.

Massage provides energy, vitality and nourishment to all seven elements (earth, water, fire, air, space, metal and wood) causing old age to approach later, as we remain younger and energetic for a longer time.

Massage is a remover of old age as it:

  • Removes fatigue
  • Increases Energy
  • Increases sexual vitality
  • Improves sight
  • Makes one stronger
  • Induces sleep
  • Strengthens the skin
  • Subsides ailments caused by mucus and wind
  • Massage excites production of antibodies and strengthen the ingredients of which the body is made up (water, carbine, ammonia, lime, phosphorus, salt, saltpeter, sulfur, fluorine, iron, silicon and trace amounts of 15 other elements).  This saves one from sorrow, agonies and anxieties.
  • Those who use massage regularly recover from physical injury more quickly then others who do not receive massage regularly.

How about a Massage to remove old age?