Not gonna lie...I'm taking a course in Herbalism. I'm geeking out in all of this awesome new info. I started this course thinking..."Okay, so like, I KNOW about herbs and stuff, I can just buff up my knowledge so I can share it with the public with a little authority, right?" But wow. Wow. There is SO MUCH I didn't know, or really understand about the study itself, let alone the vast catalog of herbs, their preparations and applications, and so forth. Mother Nature...I see you, gurl.
So, what is herbalism? The Herbal Academy (where yours truly is currently enrolled) defines herbalism as the "practice of using plants, fungi, and foods to support health, whether through offering nutrients, vitamins, minerals, or other constituents that act on body systems, organs, and/or the body as a whole." I like the word "act". Because up to this point, I really thought herbs were likened to homeopathy, which focuses on micro-dosing to affect the body's systems over time. But herbalism is not homeopathy, and it is not micro-dosing. High concentrations of constituents (the useful bits of a plant) are frequently used to make a change...and now(ish).
I hear the hesitation that most people have. In my mind, it was difficult to liken coffee (from a plant, obviously) to a plant like lavender, and consider both of these things equally effective. Coffee's effects are so obvious. One poorly timed cup too late in the day, and I will definitely need help getting to sleep. BUT I am saturated in lavender for the majority of my day at work, and I can stay awake through it. Hell, I can even be stressed there, in my dimly lit massage room that smells of French lavender fields, and sounds like angels singing me to sleep. Yep, pull-my-hair-out stressed. So not all plants are effective, right? Well...
This discrepancy has to do with an herb's preparation, and its concentration. It takes much more lavender than I am consuming through my nose and skin to have the same effect on my nervous system as my morning cup of coffee. This discovery for me is part selling point, part warning. Plants are strong medicine. A plant, although "natural" and possibly "organic," is not necessarily safe in massive quantities. Nutmeg, for instance, has a high risk of toxicity if more than a couple of teaspoons are consumed in a short period of time. Teaspoons. That's not much, folks. (There are many more examples of this here in AsapSCIENCE's video.)
So yes, plants can be quite effective, and so many of them are! It makes sense when you think about it: morphine came from the opium poppy, aspirin originally from the willow bark, and everyone's favorite stimulant, coffee...well, from coffee beans. And let's not forget the national herb du jour, marijuana. All of these are pretty strong, showing an obvious change in your body systems, right? I've gotta say, herbalism is not the milquetoast medicine I originally thought it was. I am continuously intrigued, and I cannot WAIT to see how I can incorporate this new knowledge into my services at Haven. I will definitely be sharing more info and recipes as I continue down this rabbit hole!
Welp. Here I sit pecking away at this post with a hurt right thumb (my own fault), so excuse any typos. For most people, a hurt hand or foot means major inconvenience. For me, even a hurt digit means no worky worky...which means reduced income, which makes Pam a sad girl (cue the violins). It's my livelihood, and it needs to get better FAST.
My go-to is my favorite hydrotherapy trick. My regulars have definitely heard me talk about this, but now I'm sharing it with you! It's safe and easy, as long as you don't have an acute injury. In that case SEE A DOCTOR. On that note, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I don't diagnose or prescribe. OK, whew...with that out of the way...
The prep: You'll need two large bowls or pots, the size depends on the size of your hands or feet, whichever you are treating here. You want something at least 12" wide, and 8-10" deep. I find it easiest with two cheap-o dish tubs you can find at your local everything-store. These tubs generally have the right size and depth for hands or feet. You also want a clock, watch, or timer somewhere visible.
Now for the process: Fill one tub about 2/3 of the way with cold water with some ice in it, and the other 2/3 of the way with hot tap water (as hot as YOU can take it, but no hotter). Put the tubs next to each other on a counter (for hands) or the floor (for feet). You're going to stick your hands or feet in these, so just be sure the water doesn't overflow when you do this. If you're a professional mess-maker like me, you want to do this on a kitchen counter or bathroom floor, so spillage can be easily cleaned up.
Once you have them set up, time to dip! Put the achy hand or foot in the ice water. You want to leave it in for 30-60 seconds. This will be intense. If it's painful...please stop. Once the time has passed, switch to the hot water for 30-60 seconds. Yep, this will also be intense. And yep, if it hurts...stop. Then, back to the icy water, then the hot...and so forth. Do this for around 5 mins if you can take it, or even 10 mins if you are truly daring. The intensity eventually dies down when you know what to expect, and the results are definitely worth it. I usually end on the ice, because it just feels better to me.
The basic science: Ice is a vasoconstrictor and heat is a vasodilator. When you alternate these, you are basically creating a small jet-pump, pushing out any built up fluid in your hand or foot, and bringing in fresh blood. What you're left with is a rejuvenated limb, with fresh blood flow, reduced swelling, and hopefully reduced pain. One time isn't enough; I will do this three or maybe four times today, and start all over again tomorrow.
Are you brave enough to try it? Let me know!
Alright my little lovelies, this post is probably seven years in the making. My hesitation in writing it stems from the fear that it will be interpreted as some kind of political statement or moral commentary on various aspects of my profession. As you read, keep in mind that I am not referring to activities performed under the guise of massage therapy, which are illegal in the state of Florida. You know what I am talking about - that kind of "massage". I am also not bringing up the role you could be playing in the perpetuation of modern day slavery and human trafficking, should you partake in such activities. Nope, not talking about any of that. Instead, I want you to understand your role as a consumer, and massage therapy as a profession, so that you can find the massage experience you are looking for.
The Basics of the Massage Therapy Business
Each state (and country for that matter) has their own regulations regarding Massage Therapy. In Florida, we have a Board of Massage Therapy that oversees everything having anything to do with the practice of massage as a business. You can find a lot of detailed info here if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise, just know that in Florida, a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) studied for 500+ hours, passed a board exam, should have a basic understanding of human anatomy, and should maintain an active license regulated by the Florida Department of Health.
What Are You Expecting?
This is really important. What are your goals for the massage? Are you just trying to pamper and relax? Are you trying to treat an old shoulder injury? Are you looking for assistance with workout recovery? Identify what you want so you will know if the location and massage therapist are the right fit for you. You should be able to ask the facility or LMT about their certifications or specialties.
The Massage Location
When you go to a massage establishment, look around the waiting area. Maybe check out the restroom. Are these areas clean? Is the atmosphere inviting? Do you feel comfortable being there? If you don't, you may not feel comfortable undressed on a table either.
Are you able to talk to your LMT and explain your goals? Do they seem responsive to your needs? An LMT should be able to accommodate requests like "don't work on my feet" or even "light pressure only!" You can also ask about their typical routine, and they should be able to walk you through their massage application. And by the way, if you can't communicate with your LMT for any reason, you should find another LMT. Seriously. If you couldn't communicate with your hairdresser, would you want them to cut your hair?
Cleanliness and comfort are important in the room, too. If you are expecting a quiet, relaxing massage, be sure the room is quiet and relaxing. The LMT will leave the room to let you undress and get on the table. You should be able to undress to your comfort level, but it's not uncommon for LMTs to ask you to remove everything except underwear bottoms. HOWEVER, if you are uncomfortable with that, you can wear as much or as little clothing as you like. I have worked on numerous people through tank tops and tees, yoga pants and sweats. It can be done, and if the LMT can't accommodate, you may wind up being uncomfortable throughout your session.
While you're on the table, you should have sufficient draping over you, in other words, a sheet/blanket/towel that makes you feel comfortable, and not overexposed. The drape is meant to cover everything the LMT is not working on. It is for your modesty AND ours. But if at any point, you feel uncomfortable or exposed, speak up!
Feedback is Encouraged!
Feedback is so important. If you are uncomfortable for any reason - the pressure, the area we are working on, the temperature, the music, the talking, anything - please speak up. You won't hurt our feelings, I promise. I would honestly feel awful if I found out after a session that the client was uncomfortable the whole time. It's our job to make you as comfortable as possible.
Water Water Water
We say it all the time - hydrate! The best time to do that is right after your massage when your circulation has been increased, and the body is flushing out some metabolic waste. This could aid in preventing soreness afterwards. If you have any questions about how you feel, you can contact your LMT.
If you're at the "too long, didn't read" (TL;DR) phase, just know this: Wherever you get your massage, you should feel like your expectations and feedback are acknowledged, your comfort is a priority, and you generally feel good about the decision you made to get one. Enjoy!
Happy Wednesday, lovelies!
It's been too long since I've written a real update on myself and Haven. Connecting with you was, and is, one of the pleasures of this job. I have recently learned (the hard way) that your business will demand all of you and then some, if you let it. My personal mantra of the month is "boundaries".
I've been working hard for the past year on some health issues, mostly surrounding my back. The more I dig into this problem, the more it seems like it goes deeper. Once I sat down, took a deep breath, and reflected inward, I realized that, along with the pain, I was operating daily in a state of slight panic.
Months ago, I poked around at the problem, which led me to a book...one that sat unread in my library. Then I saw the same book at Dianne Presley's office at Believe Hope Inspire, who very conveniently works right upstairs from Haven. So I read it. And I recommend it to anyone who has issues with anxiety and panic. It's called, simply, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund J Bourne, PhD. I also HIGHLY recommend Dianne's services, if you think they are appropriate for your situation.
This book puts your feelings and the reasons behind them in a simple language that is easy to understand, through exercises of self reflection and relaxation. It also lets you know, not just logically, but also emotionally, that this is a common condition that many people experience. If you have read it, let me know what you think!