Soulstice Spa Blog

Pain, Pain Go Away... January 18 2014

Pain.  Physical pain is what brings most people in for their first massage initially...  Chronic back pain, headaches, sciatica and neck/shoulder tension are the most common types of presenting pain we see in our clients at Soulstice Spa.  Depending on the severity of the pain, and how long you've had it, it can take one massage to a series of sessions to experience relief.  Remember, in most cases it took months and years to accumulate the tension in your body;  give yourself time, space and plenty of nurturing to "undo" those knots... 
 
Massage therapy is a safe and natural form of healing and a wonderful complement to other health care including acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, energy balancing, cardiovascular exercise, weight training, yoga, dance and pilates.  Regular massage enhances the immune system which allows you to heal more readily and easily.  It can amplify the effect of other wellness practices and motivate you to continue a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.  A great massage will put you in touch with your body, your feelings and your breath... and the more regular massage you receive the more you will become self-aware on a daily basis.
 
Massage is a great natural alternative to pharmaceuticals, many of which have unfortunate and long term side effects.  Instead of covering up the pain with acetaminophen (potential liver damage), ibuprofen (possible stomach issues), alcohol (cognitive impairment and dependency issues) and sleeping pills (habit-forming), try weekly massage for 4-6 weeks and notice if your pain lessens naturally.  Massage therapy works to dissolve the source of the pain, not simply cover it up... and it just so happens to feel wonderful in the process!
 
Finally, massage encourages you to "tune into" what your body is telling you --- the place where your pain lies in the body can often provide great insight and serve as a catalyst for healthy life changes.  Before receiving your massage, let your therapist know not only where your pains are, but also "how" they feel...  For example, does the pain feel like a knot?  Is it burning?  Stiff?  Does it hurt all the time, or only in the morning?  Does it hurt when you move one way, but not another?  Does the pain occur all day long at work, or only at home?  All of these things will provide clues to your therapist and help them be the best partner they can be in your healing process.
 
Our ultimate goal as massage practitioners and bodyworkers is to help you feel as healthy and happy inside your body as possible.  If you've been experiencing muscle pain and chronic tension that effects your daily life or prevents you from sleeping peacefully, give massage therapy a try!  

Five Fast Ways to Ruin a Great Massage January 11 2014

We talk a lot about the myriad and many amazing benefits of massage at Soulstice Spa.  Physical benefits include relaxed muscles, better posture, improved flexibility and range of motion and a more resilient immune system.  Mental benefits include stress reduction, a sense of calm and ease, a feeling of space and lightness, deeper sleep and improved mood.  And that's just for starters!   We encourage receiving a massage at least once per month to experience the ongoing and preventative benefits.  With each visit we'll help you optimize those benefits with self-care tips and advice, such as drinking more water, stretching and ways to stay fluid and flexible during your work day.

On the other hand, there are a few things to avoid before, during and after a massage, lest you risk diminishing its wonderful effects.  We recommend NOT doing the following... five fast ways to ruin a great massage!

1/ Drink alcohol excessively. Massage stimulates nearly all the systems in the body, and if you have had more alcohol than your body can handle or is used to, you can wind up feeling really lousy during and after your massage.  We recommend avoiding alcohol altogether the day you receive a massage, or limiting yourself to a glass of wine or single beer.

2/ Drink caffeine excessively.  If you're a coffee or soda drinker, try to drink those beverages at least 6-8 hours before your massage appointment.  The body can achieve a deeper state of relaxation during your massage if your nervous system is not jacked up on caffeine.

3/ Rushing to and from your massage.  Nothing ruins a massage faster than screaming in the door last minute or late, your adrenaline pumping, stressed to the max and muscles tightened up.  Or worrying about finishing exactly on time because you have to race out the door to your next errand or back to work.  Instead, schedule your massage at a time where you have plenty of time on either side of the session, arriving early and unrushed.  We want you to carry the state of calm created at your visit as far as you can throughout your day and hopefully longer!

4/ Get a massage while fighting with your significant other.  One of the goals of massage is to unwind and go inward...  hard to do if you're in the middle of a massive argument.  If you're having some personal problems (and we all go through them every now and again!) try to leave them at the door.  When you're finished with your massage, give yourself some time to soak in the relaxation and benefits of a quiet mind before jumping back into reality and the "outside world."  Make your massage time all about you, and you'll emerge from your session feeling calmer and clearer.  Take a break from your problems for a little while - you deserve it!

5/ Eating fast food before or after your massage.  It's never a good time to eat standard fast food, but it's especially ill advised to down a Big Mac and fries just before receiving a massage.  After a giant, salt & fat-laden meal you'll feel lethargic, bloated and uncomfortably full.  Massage tends to heighten or deepen our ability to feel and sense, so feed your body whole, clean, nutrient-rich foods before and after to get the most out of your treatment.  Your body will thank you for it!

 

 

 


Staying Soothed and Sane this Holiday Season! November 09 2013

 

The holidays are a time of celebration, joyful reunions and shared meals and laughter...  However they can also be a time of traffic jams, long lines and high expectations.  For many, the weeks leading up to the new year can be the most stressful of the year.  Stress leads to muscular tightness, lowered immune system, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression.  Rushing around, tense and anxious, are not what the holidays are meant to be about... so make a pact with yourself that you will float through this holiday season feeling calm, peaceful and detached from the stress that so many in our society get caught up in.

Here are some of our best tips to help you stay physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy!

1/ Unplug.  Choose to turn off the television, talk radio and popular magazines that bombard you with the non-stop marketing of gift-giving. 

2/ Choose experiences over "things."  If you do participate in gift-giving, make a conscious effort to give meaningfully, not out of a sense of guilt or pressure from society.  Shared meals, experiences, outings... these things often mean much more than widgets.

3/ Pre-plan "you time."  This one is important!  The holidays are a time when many are running around like mad; it's very easy to let your health and self-care go by the wayside.  Now more than ever, it's important you take care of yourself, so schedule time for healthy activities like exercise, yoga, massages, and walks in fresh air.  Yes, that's right!  Pick up your planner right now and schedule in "you time" each week from now until the clock strikes 2014.

4/ Get your shopping done early.  Avoid malls and corporate America.  Shop local and buy from small businesses.  Waiting till the last minute and "door-busting" big business isn't good for your sanity or your community. By shopping local, you help keep money in your community, create jobs and get to know the people who are making your goods and providing your services.  You'll feel great knowing you're supporting people you actually know, and chances are you'll be much more appreciated as a customer than you will at the mall.

5/ Get a massage or two!  I know, I know... I can hear what you're saying: "I don't have TIME for a massage!"   But it is precisely because you're busy that you most need a massage.  Massage relieves stress, reduces anxiety and makes you feel like everything in life is that much more manageable.  By renewing your mind, body and spirit, you'll stay strong and healthy and better able to enjoy the true spirit of the holidays. 

From now through December 24, 2013, we're offering a special Give One Get One Massage Special to help make massage convenient and affordable for you, and a thoughtful and meaningful gift for a loved one or colleague.  For $99, you receive a 50-Minute Massage for yourself plus a 50-Minute Massage Gift Card to gift to someone special.  To take advantage of this special package, please stop by the spa or phone us at 707-843-3539.

Cheers to a beautiful holiday season!!


Sweet Dreams are Made of This... October 17 2013

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow" ~ Charlotte Bronte

If you've suffered from insomnia, you're not alone.  More than 1 in 3 people struggle with insomnia in their lifetime and over one half of all Americans lose sleep due to stress or anxiety.  Millions rely on alcohol, prescription sleep aids or synthetic melatonin to fall asleep at night...

The effects of disturbed or limited sleep are powerful:

1/ Lowered immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flus

2/ Irregular digestion and metabolism:  the mind can confuse the feeling of fatigue with hunger, and instead of taking a nap or going to bed early you'll reach for a late night snack or caffeine boost

3/ Inability to think clearly and remain emotionally balanced: people who are sleep deprived have shorter fuses, are more impatient, and tend to have a yo-yo temperament with high highs and low lows

4/ Excess or fluctuating weight:  insomniacs will often reach for coffee, nicotine and sugar-laden foods (desserts, sodas, etc.) to counteract the physical and mental fatigue they're experiencing, often leading to weight gain

5/ Volatile or unstable mood: fatigue causes crankiness, negativity and sudden/severe mood swings

Do you dream of hitting the pillow at night and sleeping peacefully for 7-8 hours? 

1/ Exercise daily - even a 20-minute brisk walk will help you relax and unwind.

2/ Limit caffeine - especially coffee - intake to prior to 9am only.  If you're desperate for a midday pick-me-up, try green tea.

3/ Eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar and contains adequate lean protein.

4/ Make sure your body is getting enough magnesium; a calcium-magnesium supplement at the end of the day may promote calm and restfulness.

5/ Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea a couple of hours before bedtime.  Skip the nightly beer, cocktail or glass of wine - even one alcoholic drink can disturb sleep.

6/ Take a warm bath or shower an hour before bedtime... it's a great way to rinse the energy of the day away and prepare the body for the many cleansing processes that occur during your sleep cycle.  Try to hit the pillow at nearly the same time every night.

7/ Avoid over-stimulating books, films and television shows right before bedtime.

8/ Diffuse soothing essential oils that promote relaxation, such as pure lavender.

How can Massage Therapy help?

Regular massages are one of the best natural combats against stress and anxiety.  Massage eases the mind, calms the muscles and nervous system and makes you feel comforted and cared for...   Combined with a healthy diet, strategic supplementation and regular exercise, constant and contented sleep is possible for everyone.  Therapeutic practices such as massage therapy, yoga and acupuncture will put you in better touch with your body and spirit.  Disordered sleep and insomnia is very often linked to anxiety and depression, and the more you get in touch with yourself it is more likely you can overcome the root cause of whatever is troubling your sleep.  Full and restful sleep is a powerful force - if you wake up fully refreshed and rested you will make better choices throughout the day, whether it's choosing a smoothie over a soda, driving to work with more patience or communicating with compassion & kindness. 

If you're currently suffering from insomnia, give the above tips a try and commit to receiving bodywork and massage therapy once a week for 6-8 weeks.  The better you feel inside, the more the world will reflect that on the outside... like attracts like!