Happy Holiday Season All! We made it through Thanksgiving, now the harder one Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah/All the other winter holidays. For a majority of us, that means decorating, planning, present shopping or present making and wondering how we're going to accomplish everything on our list. Winter also means dry, cold air, dry skin, colds and being so busy we usually forget to care for ourselves because we're so busy taking care of our to do list.
Somewhere in there our skin gets dry and itchy, which is downright annoying and doesn't put you in a better mood while you're dealing with faulty Christmas light strings and shoppers. Instead of going through gallons of lotion, there are easier, healthier and more natural ways to manage the dry skin itch or eczema breakouts we get. The biggest one, water.
When it's hot, we're constantly bombarded with "Drink more water", especially desert dwellers like me. In the winter, we don't pay as much attention because we aren't sweating and getting light headed from heat exhaustion, but your body still needs water and when you run around all bundled up to stay warm, you still do sweat. Not to mention how dry the air gets when it's cold. Keep pounding the water, pretend it's still summer, your body will appreciate it. No, hot chocolate, coffee, tea doesn't count :). Most of those are diuretics and since we tend to drink a lot more of them in the winter, they dry you out more. Stick with regular water as much as you can.
Coconut oil can be your best friend and you can buy it pretty much anywhere. Slather your hands with olive oil, it's a natural moisturizer. Go buy some pure grapeseed oil. That works well too. Try out natural soaps that have shea butter, olive oil etc in it. Quite often they'll do more for your skin than major brands will. Pull back on anything with a lot of fragrance as that can dry your skin out more. Almond oil is also great for skin.
Do these few things and you'll be a lot less itchy this winter. Hope you all have a great holiday season.
I tend not to write or talk about my personal success stories with clients other than with close friends, mainly because I don't want people to think I am bragging or telling tales but after doing this for close to four years I wanted to share one; not to just promote my own business but to try to educate people as to how much good massage can do when delivered by a therapist that has the intent to track down various strains of tightened muscles and truly help the body heal itself.
Last Sunday I worked on a first time client, and it wasn't just his first time with me, but was his first massage ever. I have been working on his wife for several weeks now and she has repeatedly expressed amazement with how her range of motion in her right shoulder has vastly improved over the sessions we've had, how she has minimal to no knee pain left and the increased state of her general well being. She'd been trying to get her husband to do massage but for various reasons he had been very resistant to the idea. He'd been dealing with hip and leg pain for several months, having visited a doctor who simply prescribed him Predisone for "inflammation" and left it at that. The drugs helped for a brief time, numbing the pain, but not addressing the core issue.
What finally got him to come in was his wife pointing out that going back to the doctor wasn't liable to change anything and what did he have to lose by seeing me, I wouldn't make things worse. He agreed and I want describe what I found, what I did and how it affected him by the end of the hour. Both he and his wife are in their early 60s.
This is how he described his pain and how it was affecting him; he was very tight and sore in the hip and leg area, to the point that he was reduced to the "old man shuffle", very small steps because it was too painful to take a full length stride. He couldn't really walk, or bowl, or do anything without pain, getting up in the morning he had to literally bend over and very slowly stand up to get out of bed. In short, he was pretty much miserable and the pain was affecting all aspects of his quality of life.
I had him stay clothed as one of the reasons he'd been hesitant to come was that he was body shy, I'd told his wife as long as he wore shorts instead of pants and a shirt that was fine. I have several clients that prefer to stay clothed instead of disrobing and getting under the sheets and my quality of work isn't affected by that choice. The massage session is about them and if they are more comfortable with clothes on that's fine by me, so even though this session was incorporating hot stones he stayed clothed.
I told him that I would be working his glutes, legs and lower back to start and had him get face down on the table. I immediately went to the lower back and glutes. I found his lower back on the left side was tighter than the right and set a hot stone over his shirt, at first, to start loosening those muscles up then went to work on his glutes. He was so tight in the glutes and the area right where the legs meet the glutes that his legs would barely go to the sides when I tried to move them.
As I worked all the tightness out, I shifted the stone to under his shirt even used stones instead of my hand over the tight spots on the legs that I found. I put the stone on top of his shirts and moved his legs to get all the directions the muscle fibers run. About ten minutes in I asked him how it was feeling and he said he'd never felt his legs feel this way, that they were loosening up and much more mobile. He wasn't sure how to describe it but seemed surprised that he was feeling any change in such a short time.
I kept working and got both sides to have the proper relaxed muscle feel, increased his range of motion in the hips by about 80% by about 40 minutes into the session, which is when I had him flip over and worked his shoulders, arms and neck for 10 mins. At the 50 min mark, during which I had done several check ins with him and he repeated over and over how amazed he was that things were fleeing different, I had him stand up and test things out. The look of surprise on his face when he stood up with no pain, was able to take several full length steps, raise his knee and rotate his leg out to the side along with swiveling his hips, all things he hadn't done in months, if not years, told me all I really needed to know. His words were, "I don't know what you did, but it's magic." Then he sort of stared at me in astonishment. I tend to really like those moments.
As I was working on his wife after I suggested he take a walk around outside to see how things worked after I finished up, which he did. He came back in and said he'd walked down the street and back and had no pain, his legs felt tired but nothing hurt. Which, once again, shocked the heck out of him. I texted his wife the following day and she stated that they'd even gone out bowling that night and he'd felt no pain at all. Mind you, I'd told him to take it easy and drink lots of water.
After the sessions he, the man who didn't think massage could do anything for him, was eager to rebook with me and all on board to listen to the few suggestions I had on how to stay loose.
Now, am I writing all this to brag? No. I am writing this to let others know that you have options. This man could have kept going back to the Dr., who may have simply kept prescribing drugs, or maybe sent him to physical therapy under the impression that he needed to "strengthen" a muscle or had an injury when the true problem was fascial (muscle and tissue) restriction impinging on nerves, making things to tight to move. So very many of our "chronic pain" issues can be traced to muscles.
Are doctors bad? No, but they only look at things from one direction, they are not very well educated on how much the muscles and tissue affects us. A knowledgeable therapist can quite often resolve these issues with no drugs, no labs and no surgery. Go with the least invasive method first when it comes to pain, you may be surprised at the results.
Thank you for reading!
If you are in the Phoenix area, you can book with me here.
Kat is a LMT in AZ with close to a half decade of experience. She likes to talk to ppl about their health, make them feel better and get them to realize they have so much power to control their own health. Snarky yet informative, that's Kat in a nutshell. She's also available for personalized, targeted therapeutic massages, please see the scheduling page if you live in the Phoenix AZ area.