Join Nina Elliot at Health and Wholeness for a detoxification program! This detox is a comprehensive 28-day program that combines physical and dietary components to nourish your body, boost your natural energy and help break addictions to stimulants such as sugar and caffeine.
Cost: $450 (sign up with a friend and pay only $400 each!)
The cost of the program includes:
A jumpstart workshop (group session) on March 24 from 4:00-6:00
All detoxification supplements for the duration of the program (valued at $130)
One weekly infrared sauna (4 saunas valued at $240)
Two foot soaks (valued at $100)
One 60-minute massage (valued at $95)
Grocery shopping list (this is not a fasting detoxification)
Meal planning guide and recipes (valued at $85)
Weekly check-ins and access to your coach via email
Space is limited, sign up today! Call 571-242-4775
Wellness BundlesNew Cleanse Workshop
Looking to do some internal “Spring Cleaning”? Later this month (March 24—the first weekend of Spring), Nina will be hosting a workshop on the topic of cleansing. In addition to the two-hour educational event, the cost of the workshop will include a month’s worth of supplements, a week of infrared sauna, 2 Ionic foot soaks, 1 massage, a grocery-shopping list, weekly check-ins, and access to your coach via email. For more details, click here.New Wellness Packages
If you’ve read the top of our Synergy poster you know it says “Finding vibrant health is rarely about finding a missing link, rather it’s all about Synergy.” To that end, our growing breadth of offerings has allowed us bundle different services into packages to help you create genuine and lasting change. If you’re looking to transition to a healthy lifestyle consider our new Wellness Packages as a possible solution. We don’t know where you’ll find this many services (aspects of wellness) in one place. Not only is each service outstanding, the bundles also give you our best rates! A new you awaits on the other side!
New ServicesWellness Coaching
As a part of our continuing efforts to be as holistic as possible we are proud to bring Professional Wellness Coaching to our list of services. A Wellness Coach is a person in your corner who helps bring the critical thinking, action planning and accountability necessary to facilitate sustainable lifestyle changes. Coaching is highly individualized and focuses on helping you make changes in the areas you’re most motivated to change. We are so excited to offer this new service because we believe it can be one of the best ways to bridge intention and results, or in other words, bridge our other services in ways that are sure to bring results. A wellness coach helps you discover insights that often are some of the most valuable life lessons you will ever learn. What are you waiting for?
New Massage Specialties
Our massage offering just took a giant leap forward. In addition to our outstanding Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Pregnancy massage, we are thrilled to now offer the following types of massage: Thai, Fijian, Ashiatsu, Reflexology, and Swe-Thai. If you’ve not heard of them, then you’ve got to find out what you’re missing.
After much time refining her skills, our wonderful acupuncturist is now offering one of the best acupuncture niches around—cosmetic acupuncture, also know as facial rejuvenation acupuncture. Each treatment will be a full body treatment and focus on facial health and rejuvenation that will leave you glowing and looking your best. And if you’ve never had someone use hot towels on your skin you don’t know what you’re missing! This service can be great for anyone dealing with skin issues on their face or just someone wanting to slow
aging and have a more youthful appearance. Forget Botox and its side-effects, come get your youthful glow back naturally! Nina has been trying it and loves it!
New Team MembersJanet Witucki –Wellness CoachIn addition to being a Board Certified Coach (BCC), and Certified Wellness Coach, Janet earned her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy. She is also a certified Pilates instructor, and certified Strength and Conditioning Coach. Experience is truly a great teacher and it is the thousands of hours working one-on-one with clients that have honed her unique gift for coaching people to reach their goals. As a coach, Janet is an expert in facilitating change. It is her passion to help you grow and change in order to get the results and the life you desire. Her non-judgmental, client-centered approach coupled with extensive knowledge of the wellness arena and the team she surrounds herself with here are just a part of what makes Janet a great coach. We are lucky to have her.
Deb Millander –Massage TherapistDeb became interested in massage roughly 23 years ago while trying to relieve the body aches and discomfort her husband put up with while flying C-141's and later C-17's for the USAF. Her passion for massage became apparent in 1992, while stationed in Charleston, SC, when she gave birth to premature twins. While the 2nd twin, Joshua, was battling for his life at the Children's Hospital, Deb was
asked to let him be a part of a pilot program for massage on preterm infants. By allowing a CMT to work 15 minutes twice a day for seven days, Joshua went from a 30% chance of survival to 100% and was allowed to be discharged soon afterwards. The power of touch!
Deb enjoys helping clients relieve tension and stress from their daily lives through different massage modalities and specializes in working with specific soft and deep tissue pain and discomfort, helping expectant mothers work through some of the physical discomforts that come with pregnancy, and she is volunteering her amazing skills here with us. Deb is married, an Air Force spouse (retired), has three sons, and has been homeschooling for the last 17 years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors, studying foreign languages, traveling with family, and raising French Bulldogs.
Alisia Essig – Pilates InstructorAlisia graduated in Communications and Political Science from the University of Utah and completed her Masters degree in Public Administration at The George Washington University. While attending graduate school, Alisia starting having knee pain when she would run so she began taking Pilates and yoga classes for cross training. It was at this time that Alisia discovered her love for Pilates and she became very passionate in learning more about the Pilates method of physical fitness.
Alisia originally certified in Mat Pilates in 2008 and comes from over 200 hours of teaching experience. In 2010, she advanced her training through BASI Pilates. Alisia strongly believes that Pilates can improve strength and flexibility by creating long, lean muscles. She provides instruction in Pilates Mat, such as various levels of stretching and strength including: physical stretches, breathing techniques, and strengthening techniques for participants of varying levels of fitness, skill, and ability.New EventsTough Mudder Team
After the success of last year’s team we decided to go play in the mud again. Saturday September 8th in Frederick, Maryland—about an hour away from our Studios. If you’re looking for an unforgettable event to train for come join us for the most challenging civilian obstacle course/race on the planet! If you want to join us just send us a note and we’ll send you and invitation! You’ve never had so much fun getting dirty!
New Pilates Classes
Last month we added a Tuesday/Thursday 6:00a.m. Pilates mat class. Starting the week of March 5th we will begin offering our unique, semi-private Pilates Circuit Classes where we will use the Cadillac, Reformer, Wunda Chair and Mat. These classes are 2-3 person classes that allow attendees to benefit from the Pilates apparatus (not just the mat) at a more economical rate than one-on-one session. Each class is $40 for 60 minutes. Space in each class is limited so reserve your space today.
Outdoor Boot Camp
Weather permitting our first outdoor boot camp of the year kicks off March 26th. Like our other camps, this one run M, W, F mornings at 6:00 and is $200 for new campers and $240 for veterans. If you love to greet the day feeling like a million bucks because you had a challenging yet fun workout, you’ve gotta check out our boot camps. We’ve got new toys and new challenges this year. Come play with us! Hoo-Rah!
Jeremy’s new MAT Masters Specialty!
A big congratulation to our own Jeremy Rucker who successfully completed the challenging Muscle Activation TechniquesMasters Specialty (how many of you know all 600 muscles, what they do and are able to put together a skeleton blindfolded?) He is one of only a few dozen Masters level specialist in the entire world and he’s here ready to help in any way he can. If you’ve got some aches and pain, or simply some performance goals and you’ve not tried MAT you don’t know what you’re missing. Jeremy is exceptionally knowledgeable, humble, and understands our holistic culture as well as anyone.
Aaah, Spring! The perfect time to do a cleanse! But before you start envisioning drinking mass quantities of lemon and cayenne, or lying sideways on the bathroom floor rinsing out your insides, or even starving yourself on a 7-day fast of chicken broth and cabbage, keep reading. There are many approaches to cleansing, and it is important to find the approach that works best for you.
The truth is, our bodies are busy “cleansing” as you read this article! Entire systems/organs, designed to help rid the body of toxic substances, are pumping, filtering, purging, and oftentimes storing away molecules that would otherwise be polluting the blood stream every minute of the day! Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
Skin - Every time you sweat, your body is purging unhealthy molecules.
Respiratory Tract - Every time you exhale, your body rids itself of particles it does not need. Deep breathing not only relaxes you, but can help detoxify your body as well!
Lymph - Picks up pathogens from interstitial fluid (fluid between cells) and kills and eliminates pathogens then returns purified fluid into the blood
GI Tract (your digestive system) - Filters the good and sends the rest to the exit.
Liver - The body’s major detoxifying organ. It acts as a filter before anything from our digestive system can get into the blood.
Kidneys - Filter roughly 5-6 quarts of your blood every hour, removing water-soluble waste through the urine.
How Dirty Are You On the Inside?
So if the body is already doing this, why should I bother doing a cleanse? The best example I can think of when talking to clients about cleansing is this: I am a busy mom who loves a clean house. With two kids under the age of 5, I am constantly cleaning up after them. As fast as I get one room picked up, they have succeeded in making a mess of another. Between snacks and meals, laundry and craft time, I don’t often get to actually cleaning my home, rather I call it “struggling to maintain clutter free surfaces”. (Yes I said “struggling”—please do call before you stop by!) And so it is with our bodies. We live in a toxic planet and between the foods we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe our bodies are inundated with molecules they cannot eliminate or worse, molecules that are harmful. Depending on your lifestyle, you may be accumulating “messes” faster than you eliminate them. Most of these messes (especially toxins) are stored in fat, as our cleansing organs get bogged down—kinda like mama. :)
Taking my example further, I can get my house a LOT cleaner when my adorable children are at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the afternoon and I can transition from a “maintenance phase” of household care, to the actual cleaning. Or we can really get rocking and rolling when I call up my beloved housekeeper who with her extra tools, extra care and 5 hours of concentrated man power, can make it so I wouldn’t mind eating off my bathroom floor! The point is, the mess makers have been removed so that the work can go deeper. And just like I crave this to happen once every two weeks in my home, our bodies can get a benefit from a well-conducted cleanse every now and then!
If your body is feeling sluggish, chances are your immune system has been struggling to keep up. After a cold and stuffy winter or even after a long bout of stressful travel or just eating poorly, a cleanse can be just what our body needs to restore energy, kick cravings of stimulant foods or just help us to get back on track with a more balanced healthy lifestyle. Perhaps think of it this way: if you just spent some time living one extreme, spend some time in the other extreme, and after your cleanse you should settle somewhere in the middle! And now is the perfect time to do it!
How Aggressive Should a Cleanse Be?
A cleanse is a great way to break cycles of addiction (e.g., sugar, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, tobacco). Most cleanses will involve stopping those types of substances for a while or altogether. If your cleanse is creating side effects such as head aches, foggy thinking, sleep disturbances, muscle and joint aches, know that this is common and is referred to as a “cleanse response.” This happens when too many harmful molecules are released into the blood stream for elimination all at once and the body’s purging systems are overwhelmed. It is always best to approach a cleanse at a level that prevents the body from too much stress. Sometimes, however, you just have to get through it.
Here are some practical tips for choosing the right type of cleanse for you. Let’s assume a cleanse here will last 28 days:
Take inventory of the addictive substances you have on a daily basis and devise a plan to go off of them. Caffeine, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, nicotine. Draft up a reduction plan for the first 3 days and try to go off of them all by the end of week one. Monitor any discomfort.
Drink way more water than normal. Way more. Have a hydration plan that involves filling up large containers of water and making yourself drink them during the day. Add lemon, chlorophyll drops or even make herbal tea with a little honey to make it interesting and also add valuable minerals to your hydration!
Integrate more vegetables and fruits into your plan. For some this means just adding a few more raw components to each meal, for others it can mean you are juicing three times a day! This all depends on your goals and your level of tolerance. Either way you will be providing your body with more enzymes and nutrients in which to work from.
Digestive health: Everyone can benefit from helping their body restore the healthy bacteria in their guts. This can be taking a pro-biotic in the form of a supplement, drinking lacto-fermented and fermented beverages, and cultured dairy products into their routine.
Consider a Food Sensitivity Test and follow its results for 6 months. A simple blood test is drawn and tested to a panel of 200+foods. Most people are sensitive to some foods and don’t even know it! Often these sensitivities are even toward foods that one enjoys and consumes regularly. Food sensitivities (different from allergies) tie up an unknown portion of the immune system, and slow your body’s ability to lose weight and perform other tasks. A simple blood test is one way to find out what foods your immune system responds too, and a structured rotation diet can help you overcome various sensitivities. Such a test can be used as part of an aggressive cleanse plan. We usually reserve this service for people who have implemented other health measures for a while but are still having trouble reaching their goals.
If you are ready to get started and don’t quite know what to do, or if you think it would be more successful if you had some accountability and guidance throughout your cleanse, I will be hosting a 28 Day Detox Program on Saturday March 24th from 4pm to 6pm. I will also be going over 10 additional cleansing measures not mentioned in this article.
For those interested in the workshop here are the details:
The cost is $450 and includes:
Jump start workshop (group session)
All detoxification supplements including multivitamin, greens and probiotics
One weekly infrared sauna (4 weekly saunas)
Two foot soaks
One 60-minute massage
Grocery shopping list (this is not a fasting detoxification)
Meal planning guide, recipes and additional cleansing measures
Weekly check ins and access to your coach (me) via email
Follow-us on Facebook and/or call Nina at 571.242.4775 for more details.
“What in the World Is Coaching?”
I get asked this question a lot. Truth be told, I’ve discovered it’s almost impossible to explain coaching in words. Coaching must be experienced to be fully understood. What I hope to do in this brief description is to pique your interest enough to motivate you to give coaching a try. And if all else fails, I would like to report that International Coach Federation studies report a 98.5% client satisfaction rate. What this means, is that most people who try coaching love it! How’s that for getting your attention?
That being said, here are my thoughts on why I think coaching is well worth your time and investment. Changing our mindset or thinking pattern, our view of ourselves and the world, as well as changing our life patterns, are some of the most difficult things we will ever do. As a coach, I’m an expert in facilitating change and helping you access your passions and deepest desires to create the results and the life you want. It is my passion to help people grow and change. So, what is it that you want to change in your life? What goals have you wanted to pursue? Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to have more energy to enjoy life more? Do you want to control your schedule instead of your schedule controlling you? Do you want to create a sound and effective plan to achieve your health and wellness goals? Partnering with me through the processes of awareness, learning, and action, can help you achieve the results you never knew were possible. I’d love to work with you to help you live the life of your dreams. Let’s create that new vision and plan, together.
Janet Witucki, BCC
I began my health and wellness career as a physical therapist helping patients recover from various injuries or diseases. While treating patients, I began to see an overwhelming need for wellness services to help people be proactive about their health. I eventually began work in the wellness world as a Pilates instructor and personal trainer. I continued to work with many patients and clients who spoke about wanting to have a healthier lifestyle but having no idea how to go about achieving it. This began my personal and professional journey into how to help people facilitate change. I soon discovered the field of coaching and knew immediately that I was on the right track. As a coach, I’m an expert in facilitating change. I help people grow and change in the areas in which they are motivated to achieve meaningful results. What changes can I help you make? What goals have you wanted to pursue? I hope to have the opportunity to work with you. Go out and live the life of your dreams! Best wishes to you!
Board Certified Coach | Center for Credentialing and Education
Certified Wellness Coach | HealthWorld Online
Certified Pilates Instructor | Professional Health and Fitness Institute
Certified Strength and Conditioning Instructor | Professional Health and Fitness Institute
Masters of Science Physical Therapy | Marymount University
Bachelors in Biology | University of Virginia
What brought you to Health and Wholeness?
I was having trouble staying motivated through the winter months and started feeling really bad about myself. I was feeling old, lazy, and fat, and needed a kick in the butt to mix things up, get out of the treadmill rut, and adjust my attitude.
How many days a week do you train?
I train twice a week with Christian and try to do some sort of a workout another three or four days a week outside of H&W.
What are your biggest motivators?
I'm not a "pounds" or "inches" kind of person. Instead, I am motivated by seeing forward progress. That could be anything from lifting the heaviest weight I've ever lifted to doing more reps than I've ever done before to jumping higher than I've jumped before. Forward progress helps to remind me just how much I have gained in my time at H&W.
What is the most significant change you have noticed since you started at Health and Wholeness?
I wish I could say my posture, but Christian would probably disagree (but I am still working on it)! So instead I'll say that I'm amazed at my bench press progress. When I started at H&W I couldn't even lift the bar. I'm now up to 10 or more reps with not just the bar, but the bar with a few plates on for good measure. Initially, I was just thrilled that my arms did not snap, but now I'm even more excited about being able to bench more and more with each attempt.
What have you learned about yourself since you startedworking with us?
That I can push myself harder than I ever imagined. And, that for at least two hours a week, I can let my guard down, just be me, and achieve some pretty cool goals in the process.
What advice would you have for others just starting their own health journey?
Make it just that - your OWN health journey. Don't look at what others do or have done as your measure of success. Instead, set goals that are important to you. It's a lot more fulfilling to achieve your own goals than try to mimick what others are doing.
What would you want others to know about Health and Wholeness?
The Team at H&W is spectacular....and that's just the beginning. They are wonderful role models, mentors, and friends. With such a knowledgeable and strong group of folks to work with, everything else seems to just fall into place.
Acupuncture is a powerful and natural treatment modality that has been used in pain management for centuries. There are many different types of pain that a person can experience, and acupuncture can be an effective treatment for them all. Because it treats the body holistically, acupuncture not only helps reduce immediate pain but it can also help avoid future pain in the same areas. It is so effective that many conventional medical doctors now suggest acupuncture for pain management, often in conjunction with other modalities such as chiropractic and/or physical therapy.
How does acupuncture work to relieve pain?
Acupuncture works naturally with the body’s own energy that flows through specific pathways, also known as meridians. When symptoms such as pain occur, there is blockage of the flow of energy in a particular area of the body. Stimulating specific acupuncture points located along the meridians balances and encourages the free flow of energy through those pathways, thereby alleviating pain and restoring health.
What are the benefits of acupuncture for pain management?
One benefit of acupuncture is that it is a drug-free way to minimize pain. The most popular form of pain relief is currently the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other strong medications that can have unreliable results and unpleasant side effects. With drugs, over time, people often develop a tolerance or experience the need for an increased dosage to achieve the same required effect. Acupuncture completely eliminates the possibility of drug dependency and the risk of potentially dangerous side effects.
Besides alleviating pain, acupuncture also triggers the central nervous system to release chemicals such as endorphins and other natural pain relievers to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation. It is not unusual for a person to fall asleep during treatment and leave feeling rejuvenated! Acupuncture also increases blood circulation throughout the body while relaxing the muscles and increasing immune system response. Because it deals with blood circulation, acupuncture is not limited to treating skeletal or muscular pain; rather it has also been proven effective in treating migraine headaches and even preventing future migraine attacks. Physical pain associated with certain illnesses can also be treated with acupuncture to support and aid in recovery.
How many acupuncture treatments are needed?
Acupuncture efficacy is cumulative in nature. For this reason, we recommend a series of closely scheduled treatments in order to bring about the desired results and accurately assess its effectiveness. Each person will respond uniquely to treatment, depending on the level of pain and severity of the injury or illness. A person’s age and overall health is also a factor. Those who suffer from chronic conditions of long duration will necessarily take longer to respond to treatment and feel improvement.
Note: Persons with chronic pain or serious illness are encouraged to be evaluated by a medical doctor before beginning acupuncture treatment.
Theresa L. Spradlin, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM) Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist – Health and Wholeness, Arlington, VA
Acupuncture has been used to promote fertility for thousands of years. It is an approach that works with the body’s own energy to nourish and strengthen all of its organs and systems, including the reproductive system. Oftentimes, the most ancient modalities are the best and most natural means to help minimize the effects of things that certainly contribute to the high incidence of infertility in our modern world—factors such as our polluted environment, high stress levels, and unhealthy food options.
By focusing on specific pathways of energy and particular associated points, acupuncture increases blood supply and overall circulation of vital energy to the ovaries, the lining of the uterus, as well as all of the organs involved in reproduction. In this way, acupuncture is effective in treating a wide range of women’s health concerns and promoting fertility, leading to a healthy pregnancy. Due to its strong influence on the reproductive and endocrine systems, acupuncture can address conditions that may hinder fertility, such as thyroid imbalance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and a variety of menstrual issues.
Acupuncture is also known to impact the areas of the brain that supply the hormones involved in fertility, whose role is to stimulate and/or regulate egg production and impact the timely release of the egg. In addition, acupuncture increases production of endorphins, those “feel good” chemicals in the brain that, besides relieving anxiety, also play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle.
In essence, acupuncture works holistically to help restore health and balance to not only the reproductive system that will naturally result in conception and contribute to a healthy pregnancy, but also to the entire body. As with every complementary approach, acupuncture always works best in conjunction with optimal nutrition and plenty of exercise in order to promote the flow of vital energy and overall wellness necessary to bring this about!
Because infertility is a medical issue, we recommend that a physician first examine women in order to rule out any structural deficit or other issues that may impede pregnancy prior to beginning acupuncture treatment.
Theresa L. Spradlin, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM) Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist – Health and Wholeness, Arlington, VA
Take Baby Steps
If the person you are trying to introduce is intrigued by massage but reluctant to dive in headfirst, there are several ways to encourage them to stick a toe in the water. Many massage therapists offer chair massage in smaller time increments than a typical one-hour appointment. This is an ideal way for a person to experience the benefits of touch without having to worry about undressing or being overwhelmed by a full session.
Consider inviting your "recruit" to meet your massage therapist before your next session. Most therapists would be happy to give a potential client a brief tour and talk with them about the process of receiving a massage. For many people, being able to put a face to the person who is going to be touching them will calm some of their fears of the unknown.
For those who need more specific information about massage, you can direct them to Massagetherapy.com, a public education site provided by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). On the site they will find an introduction to massage and its benefits, information on what to expect from a session, and a glossary of terms and techniques to help them understand massage lingo. There is also an archive of articles from Massage & Bodywork magazine to help the potential client answer any questions they might have before taking the plunge.
Be a Billboard
Friends and family are more likely to follow your lead if you show them that you enjoy, and benefit from, receiving massage. If you have a regular routine and are feeling good, when you recommend bodywork to others it will be more influential. Whether it's increased range of motion, a sunnier disposition, or an improvement in posture, what you've gotten out of massage will be the best advertisement you can show them.
If, after all of your encouragement, they are still reluctant, you need to respect their feelings. Not everyone is ready for the hands-on experience of massage therapy, and some may even have some serious personal issues about touch. If you allow them to come to massage and bodywork on their own terms, they are more likely to be open to the safe, comforting, professional touch that the massage therapist provides.
Sharing the Benefits of Bodywork
When we experience something good, it's natural to want to tell everyone about it. Massage is no exception. Here are some ways to share your enthusiasm for massage therapy.
Gift certificates are a great way to share massages with the people in your life. Looking for the perfect birthday present? Purchase an hour gift certificate for them with your favorite massage therapist. Thanking someone for pet sitting? Reward them with a half-hour reflexology treatment. If it's your spouse or significant other that you're hoping to get interested in this healing therapy, perhaps a couple's massage, where two people receive massage in the same room, could be an anniversary gift.
Giving someone a gift certificate allows the recipient to experience massage without financially committing to something that they might not be sure about. After the initial visit, it is up to them to evaluate whether the experience makes them want to pay for another one.
Outline the Benefits
Most people are aware that massage is effective at relieving stress and promoting relaxation, but there are myriad benefits you can highlight depending on your audience. For those who suffer from low-back pain, a study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle has shown that massage is more effective than medication at reducing pain. Some massage therapists provide specialized sport massage, something that might appeal to your golfing buddy who needs to loosen up his swing and increase his range of motion.
In addition to helping people reduce pain or cope with physical injuries, the supportive touch of a massage therapist can be a powerful positive encounter during times of emotional distress. If someone in your life is dealing with grief or loss, you might recommend massage as a way for them to relax and be tended to without having to actively share their feelings, a welcome relief for many people.
Here are just some of the positives that massage and bodywork can provide. You can tailor your "pitch" to your audience by focusing on those specific to their situation:
--Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
--Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow--the body's natural defense system.
--Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
--Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
--Improve the condition of the body's largest organ--the skin.
--Increase joint flexibility.
--Lessen depression and anxiety.
--Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
--Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
--Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
--Reduce spasms and cramping.
--Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
--Release endorphins--amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
--Relieve migraine pain.
Whether it's a pulled muscle from yoga class or an afternoon basketball game, or a long-term pain caused by injury, most of us will come to know the beast that is called back pain. In fact, when it comes to low-back pain specifically, researchers say that 70-85 percent of the population will experience it at some point in their lives.
Causes of Pain
Experts say the cause of back pain can be the result of several factors. High on the list is stress. When our body is stressed, we literally begin to pull inward: the shoulders roll forward and move up to the ears, the neck disappears, and the back tightens in the new posture. "It's an armoring effect," says Angie Parris-Raney, a Denver-based massage therapist who specializes in deep-tissue massage and sports therapy. "That protective mode, with the muscles in flex, can even result in visceral problems," she says, where the pain also affects internal organs.
In addition to stress, poor posture, bad ergonomics, lack of exercise, arthritis, osteoporosis, a sedentary lifestyle, overexertion, pregnancy, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, excess weight, and more can contribute to pain.
Geoffrey Bishop, owner of Stay Tuned Therapeutics in Flagstaff, Arizona, says mechanics is the main cause of back pain that he sees in his practice. "It's mechanics, including repetitive use and ignorance about preventative postures, and neglect by employers and employees to provide rest and recovery." The past also plays a part, he says. "Old injuries and traumatic events, left untreated and unresolved, seem to dictate where stress lands in the back as well."
Massage Offers Hope
Those who suffer with back pain know there are no easy answers for chasing the pain away. Physical therapy has proven effective for some sufferers, as has chiropractic and acupuncture, but massage therapy is also making a name for itself when it comes to providing relief. In fact, research has shown that massage can be a great friend to the back-pain sufferer.
"Massage therapists have long treated low-back pain safely and effectively," says Les Sweeney, president of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. "They have done so less expensively and less invasively than is possible with other treatments."
In fact, a study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle found that massage was more effective at treating low-back pain than medication. Patients who received massage once a week for 10 weeks were more likely to report that their back pain had improved, and improvements were still present six months after the study. Other research from the University of Miami School of Medicine and the Touch Research Institute showed that massage can decrease stress and long-term pain, improve sleep and range of motion, and help lower the incidence of depression and anxiety that often accompanies back pain.
For Parris-Raney's clients, the length of pain relief provided by massage therapy varies depending on the condition they are experiencing. Getting on a regular massage schedule, however, has really helped her clients manage the back pain, she says. When they go past their normally scheduled appointment, "their bodies know it's time to get a massage again." Whether it's just helping clients get through the day, or reminding the stressed-out office worker to breathe, Parris-Raney says massage can play an important part in back pain relief.
Whitney Lowe, owner of Oregon's Orthopedic Massage Education and Research Institute, says the benefits of massage for back pain depend on the primary cause of the pain. "If it is predominantly muscular pain, then massage has a great deal to offer in reducing pain associated with chronic muscle tightness, spasms, myofascial trigger points, or those types of problems. If it's something caused by a joint alignment problem or compression on a nerve, for example, then the role of massage might be somewhat different, such as helping to address the biomechanical dysfunctions, but not really being able to get pressure off the nerve itself."
When it comes to back pain, there are a lot of options out there. Ultimately, massage, and its myriad benefits, might be a viable answer. For back pain sufferers, Parris-Raney says massage can work wonders. "Massage can help relax the body, relax the psyche, and improve a client's range of motion and circulation to the affected tissues," she says. Not only can massage help directly with the pain, but it can also make life a little easier, too. "Massage lets you tap into the parasympathetic system," she says, "and tap into all the good hormones that help you sleep better and help you handle stressors along the way." All of that helps in building a healthier back and a happier you.
Benefits of Massage
From stress relief to skin rejuvenation, the benefits of massage are extensive. When it comes to managing back pain, however, there are some specific benefits touch therapy can offer:
--Improved circulation. With increased circulation comes faster recovery time for sore, overworked muscle tissues.
--Increased release of endorphins. The prevalence of these natural painkillers is boosted every time you have a massage. This can only help in managing pain.
--Improved movement. Range of motion and flexibility both get a boost with massage.
--Increased relaxation. When you relax, your muscles relax, thereby calming the pain.