August 27, 2009

Spa Scoop: Summer Day Spa

Summer Day word: Invigorating!
Their Tui Na massage is not your close your eyes, relax and take a nap kind of work. It truly is body work!

Type: Tui Na

Time: 60 Mins

Price: $48 (this was a summer promotion, but their regular pricing is around $55)

Sight: This second story massage focused spa is right off of busy Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn, New York. It was deceptively bigger than I anticipated with heavy curtains separating the run of the entire floor of the building. Dim lights, hard wood floors and and the feeling that these body workers are all about just working with bodies. While the table area are only separated by curtains, I still felt as if the space I was to be worked on was respected.

Sound: They opted for the nature Sounds meets classical style melodies. I normally have no issues with this, but with the location being on one of the busiest streets in Brooklyn - they really needed to crank it up a little to drown out delivery trucks and busy city folks.

Smell: Summer Day Spa ia neutral in the smell department. The oils we unscented and the place itself had no distinguishable smell.

Taste: A wee dixie cup of water at the end!

Touch: About 5 mins into my Tui Na massage, I thought to myself - this would be a great massage for anyone who loves the way your body feels after a massive workout! An Eastern Sports Massage! As researched, every joint was addressed. She worked on my hips, greater trochanter, and scapula with a Get In There attitude! She worked down the Bladder Meridian (it holds the Shu Points for all the meridians so it was used to move stagnate Qi through the body) My therapist used her entire body - and moved from Compression strait to Deep Tissue and stretches. She was very good at feeling my range of motion to give me a great stretch.

Constructive Criticism: I love deep work, but if you bruise easily (like I do) you should be aware that this type of work is really about working on knots and getting your alignment back in shape. Also, even through this is only the second place I am have written about - there was no chance to disclose pregnancy. Summer Day Spa does a verbal intake, and I fear that this will make some people feel unprotected.

Loved: I love the mix of Eastern and Western. That I was aware of when she was working the Bladder Meridian and the amount of Umpf! She had. Summer Day Spa is committed to fully involved work.

Learned: I learned that the use of body mechanics is really what gives you the strength to do prolonged deep work.

August 25, 2009

The Rub Down III

I have been doing some research on the positive effects that Massage Therapy has on people with health issues. I try to do a search for updated information every time a set out to do a new post and sharing this info with you will undoubtedly be a very long and interesting chain of posts!

Massage Today has offered these facts about the Benefits of Massage Therapy for those who live with HIV or AIDS:

• Reduction of stress and anxiety
• Increases White Blood Cells
• Reduces Edema
• Decrease Pain by releasing natural endorphins
• Reduces Muscle Tension
• Improves Immune System
• Reduces Inflammation
• Prevention/Reduction of Muscular Atrophy
• Reduces Depression
• Relief of Mental and Emotional Stress

Cortvia is another site that I have been following for it's great facts and news stories about the ever growing field of Massage Therapy. I found a post about the healing benefits of Massage Therapy when working with Children suffering with HIV and AIDS as well. They shine on Camp Dreamcatcher (located in Oxford, Pennsylvania) for their work with affected children and students who donate over 160 hours of massage for the week!

Both children and adults alike gain much strength, relief and immunity building energy from Massage treatments. For specific data please see this entry at

August 24, 2009

A New Adventure

Shiatsu is the base for many different kinds of Eastern bodywork. Tui Na dates back to the Shang Dynasty of China, 1700 B.C.E. and follows the same belief of Qi flowing through the body by way of meridians. It can be a blend of Acupressure, Range of Motion, Kneading, Compression and Stretching. This type of body work has been recommended for the treatment of joint and spine issues - as each session requires your practitioner to address all of the major joints in the body to earn the trust of your Wei Qi (defensive energy). It is also used to evaluate other body imbalances, promote circulation of Qi (which includes Blood and Oxygen circulation) and follows the standard of Traditional Chinese Medicine by striving to balance the Eight Principles:

*Yin and Yang
*Hot and Cold
*Full and Empty (or Deficiency and Excess)
*Interior and Exterior

These pairs balance out their partner to make for smooth flowing energy in the body to promote a healthier you!

Why this quick intro to Tui Na? Because one of my upcoming posts shall be a report of my first experience with it's ancient healing ways. Stay Tuned!

August 18, 2009

Spa Scoop: Inis Spa

Inis Spa is located in the small town of Surf City, North Carolina and let me tell you,they have really set the bar high for all the spas I plan to review when I get home to New York! I have had many massages in many levels of spas, as well as getting worked on weekly by fellow trainees, and I walked out of my session feeling as if this was one the the best massages I have been privileged to receive. Ms. M (my therapist) will have my business again if we head back to these North Carolina shores.

Type: 60 min Inis Spa Signature Massage (which included a blend of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Stones and Aromatherapy)


Sight: This beach town business balances out it's decor with earth tones and warm soft light.Plus the massage tables are decked out with added padding and fuzzy blankets to make you feel warm and cozy from the minute you lay down.

Sound: Ms. M had a mix of acoustic guitar, strings and soft flutes playing calming tunes throughout my hour. It was played louder than I have experienced in other places, which made it more even more surrounding and peaceful.

Smell: Inis Spa used a few scents during the work - making a wonderful journey for my nose! The oil's scent reminded me of sweet smelling clay, followed by an eye pillow which was carrying lavender and chamomile. When my time was wrapping up, Ms. M warmed up essence of orange in her hands and encouraged me to inhale the zesty scent before massaging it into my shoulders. Just Wonderful!

Taste: There was a water cooler in the waiting area. Unlike some places with fruit infused water, nuts, dark chocolate and so on - They just provided basic cool water, but is was still very much appreciated!

Touch: Ms. M has a very nice touch and was in complete control of her pressure. You can tell when you are in the hands of someone knows what they are doing, and furthermore when they enjoy what they do. She incorporated warm moist towels, delicious hot stones and yes, I was in heaven.

Constructive Criticism: The intake form was condensed and clear. The only thing missing was a place for the Massage Therapists to confidentially ask their clients if they are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. Not everyone knows the special care a Massage Therapist will take if they know their clients are pregnant - so I was surprised this question was not asked.

Loved: So many things! I love the Aromatherapy, the use of the hot stones with effleurage and petrissage, the welcoming energy the whole place had and the price that made me feel like I was getting more for my money.

Learned: I learned a lot from Ms. M at Inis Spa. Her slow dedicated strokes made for a wonderfully relaxing massage. I reflected that I tend to work faster than she did - then realized that as a student, I have had a tendency to try and practice as much as I can with each session. I hope to be as client centered as Ms. M was when I am an LMT. I will also strive to have the confidence to slow down and enjoy giving a massage as much as I enjoy receiving the work.

August 16, 2009

National Relaxation Day...

...was Yesterday. BUT mark your calendars for next year and we shall meet again on August 15th to share what we have done for ourselves in the name of de-stressing! Obviously, getting yourself a massage should be at the top of your list!

I went swimming in the big blue, took a nap to the sound of the waves, let my skin soak up some sun (through some SPF of course) and looked up a local spa to schedule a massage in the next few days!

August 14, 2009

The Rub Down II

Tomorrow - We will be at the beach!

As we are vacationing with my fella's family - I have invited his mother to join me at the local spa for a massage if she wishes. Then, during the quick check of the e-mail I received an alert for a weekend course at the Swedish Institute to be Certified in Infant Massage through training by Loving Touch. This made me want to do a little research...

Massage is healthful for anyone at any age, but how does it break down?

The Journal of Neuroscience reports that Massage accelerates brain development and the maturation of visual function in babies. Linda Storm (Executive Director of Infant Massage USA) Shares Infant massage stimulates all of the systems of the baby's body. Hormones released during massage help babies relax. The massage promotes bonding and provides relief from pain, gas, colic and constipation. Infant Massage has been practiced in many cultures for centuries, but the US wasn't as aware of the benefits until the 1970's. Massage Today said that the 1990's saw an expansion of infant massage into hospital-based inpatient and outpatient programs...The growing popularity of infant massage paralleled an increase in research to study the effects of touch on infants, including its effect on premature babies; babies exposed to cocaine; children with autism; and even parents with postpartum depression.

AMTA adds info on a little bit of an older crowd:

Massage for health reasons finds a strong audience among the young and old But Baby boomers most likely to seek massage for medical/health benefits:
• Among those who’ve had a massage in the last five years, 41 percent of those 55-64 and 44 percent of those over 64 received their last massage for medical/health reasons.

• Younger Americans, aged 18-24, were the next group most likely to seek massage for health reasons; 34 percent reporting having a massage for medical/health reasons.

• Twenty-three percent of those in the 25-34 age group reported getting a massage in the last five years for medical/health reasons.

I have already found many articles the details of Massage Therapy being helpful with specific issues in all ages: Depression, Cancer, AIDS and much more. I look forward to learning more and sharing that research with you soon.

August 12, 2009

Schools out for Summer!

The last exam of this semester is finished!

I had my practical exam for Palpation of Myology today! Palpation is the physical extension of learning Anatomy and Myology. I was already tested on the Palpation of the bones and bone features as a mid-term, so the final was all about muscles. We have learnt the names, location, actions, origins and insertions of over a hundred Muscles working in the human body. In Palpation we are asked to find and touch every individual muscle that we can reach. Some of the muscles lay deep in the layers of other muscle, so we are asked to indicate where the muscle is and what direction the fibers run. Out of the entire list, we were randomly asked between 30 and 40 muscles to Palpate on a fellow student.

I have officially passed all my exams with flying colors and can begin my Summer Vacation! I already have some ideas to keep this blog updated and growing so I’ll be back with soon with some beach side posting soon!

August 11, 2009

Exam Two!

I finished my final exam for Into Swedish Massage! Two down, one to go!

We were required to do a timed hour of massage using all levels of strokes: Effleurage (long, gliding strokes), Petrissage (lifting, circling and kneading the muscles), Friction (firm, deep rubbing movements), Tapotement (tapping or percussive movements), and Vibration (rapidly shaking or vibrating specific muscles). We incorporated Range of Motion on various joints as well as being tested on New York State draping standards (so our clients always feel modest and safe). The best part? When I was done giving my hour long massage, I got to relax on the table and be the recipient of a fellow students work!

A little history about Swedish massage? Sure. Why not!

Body Massage is the technique that most people associate with the massage world. This is the style that evolved in Greece and Rome in Ancient Time that was later adopted in other parts of Europe and America. One of the first writings about the kneading of muscles is when Hippocrates wrote in 460 BC that "The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing”

So why is it called Swedish Massage if originated in Greece and Rome?

Pehr Henrik Ling was a great Swedish gymnast who also happened to be the great-great grandson of Swedish scientist Olof Rudbeck. Rudbeck is credited as the discoverer of the human lymphatic system. In his young adult years Ling traveled to China – where he studied their Martial Arts, Exercise, Nutrition, Health Philosophies and Massage Practices. When he returned to Sweden he carried on with his very physical life style. He ended up suffering with joint injuries and rheumatism. Looking for an effective and holistic approach for treatment, he combined the research of his great-great grandfather, the studies of Roman practice and the techniques used in China to develop the foundation to what we respect as Swedish Massage.

Exam One is Done!

Yesterday – I was being tested in my Intro to Eastern Medicine and Shiatsu class. I must admit that this final has been the one that I have been most anxious about. Shiatsu (which literally means Finger Pressure) is an extremely celebrated medical practice in Eastern Cultures such as China and Japan. It has been documented as a means of health and healing as early as the Chinese Yellow Emperor in 2697 BC. So what…that makes this practice 4,706 years old!?!

At the Swedish Institute we are being trained in the art of the Five Element Energy Shiatsu. (I’ll talk more about the Five Element aspect in a later post!) This type of Shiatsu is based on the traditional Chinese medical principals of treating the Mind, Body and Spirit through touch. I like this. I like this because so often (at least here in America) we only think of our health when something is wrong - and many times we are not truly aware that the way we feel is not just physical, nor is it limited to being just mental. Eastern thought works with the idea that a malady is an imbalance in your healthier self. Just that - an imbalance. There is nothing wrong with you. You aren’t judged for it, because let’s face it – no one is as balanced as they ideally could be! You are not being punished with a cough, a sour stomach or high blood pressure. You are just imbalanced. A Work in Progress! So working with a Shiatsu Therapist is like having an assistant to get things sorted out! A personal health trainer to help balance out your Mind, Body and Soul.

Doesn’t hurt that the treatments of massage and stretches are a lot more fun than cough syrup or Tylenol too!

August 09, 2009

The Rub Down

Heath Care Reform.

There is a lot happening - or at least a lot being talked, bickered and bartered about with what should be done with Health Care here in the US. I don't know about you, but I welcome the idea of everyone being able to afford to go to the doctor when they need to. I lived in England a few years ago, and there I experienced injuries that warranted me taking more than a few trips to their local Emergency Room (or A&E if you will). Yep! I am one of those people who has been taken care of and nursed to health by a Government Assisted Program - and did not have to be thousands of dollars in debt to recover!

The American Massage Therapy Association released this data that US Consumers and Therapists have strong support to integrate Massage Therapy into main stream medical coverage. I'm also researching the role Alternative Medicine would play in the proposed Public Options Plan.

Massage therapists and consumers are in favor of integration of massage into healthcare.

  • Over half of adult Americans (60 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.4
  • Ninety-six percent of massage therapists agree massage therapy should be integrated into healthcare.5
As the old adage states "Prevention is better than a cure..." it tends to be less expensive too! And lucky for us, Massage Therapy works regardless of where it is used on that timeline!

August 08, 2009

The Classes

Past Performances!
Anatomy and Physiology I

Now Playing!
Intro to Eastern Medicine/Shiatsu*
Intro to Swedish Massage*
Palpation of Anatomy and Myology*

Coming Attractions!

Anatomy and Physiology II
Tools of Assessment
Swedish Massage II
Shiatsu II

*This blog post was done during a break from studying for these Finals!

Welcome to the Mending Hands Blog!

My name is Melissa (hi!) and this is my blog about becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist and beyond!

You will find that I love lists - so I'd thought I'd just jump right in and let the listing begin...

1. I am currently a part time student enrolled in the Massage Therapy program at The Swedish Institute: College of Health Sciences in New York City. But in a month from now, I will be starting the new semester FULL time and yes, I'm thrilled!

2. I live in Brooklyn. In the lovely Park Slope area (I am already dreaming up a private practice where me and my Trusty Table visit fellow ParkSlopians to ease their tensions and heal their headaches, one bownstone at a time...Sigh...)

3. MENDING HANDS - is the name of my (soon to be) practice. I have the website on ice for when I sit my State and National Boards in August 2010. But when you have a wonderful logo designed for you by the brilliant Joe Russ - I don't think anyone can blame me for wanting to start marketing a little early!