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Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Lately in Chicago, we’ve had record-breaking weather. Freezing cold temps with below zero wind chills. Snowstorms and black ice on the road. Driving is hazardous, but waiting outdoors for public transportation can seriously jeopardize one’s safety. In extreme survival situations, humans tend to huddle together for warmth. The human body produces its own heat and sharing heat with another person can be lifesaving in some circumstances and simply pleasant when the cold is not life threatening.

One way to warm up your muscles in this weather is to move around. (I’d use the word exercise but some people hate the idea of exercising.) Jumping jacks, jogging in place, any full body movement that is easy to do and spreads warmth through your body by increasing blood flow can help warm you up.

Working Well Massage Lincoln Park

Working Well Massage Lincoln Park

Another way to warm up your muscles is to receive a massage. The other day I stopped by our Working Well Massage booth inside While Foods Gold Coast and received a wonderful body warming massage by Najat, one of our WWM Massage therapists. The booth was cold, but Najat turned the heat on my legs and her hands warmed my back and arms. Despite the cold weather and wind whistling outside, for 20 minutes,  I was warm and dry.

Today, January 27, 2014, our WWM Gold Coast massage booth at 30 W. Huron is closed due to the extremely cold weather and our location the windows.

HOWEVER, our WWM Lincoln Park chair massage  booth is still open from Noon to 8pm today.

If you are daring to brace the cold, “Chigarctica” weather in Chicago today, and feel a need to have warm hands knead your cold muscles and bring warmth and comfort to your body, stop by and let Rania and Yuriy give you a relaxing, soothing massage. And grab some warm tasty food in the food court. Or you can do some jumping jacks and run in place instead. Which is also effective at warming you up, but not as relaxing!

What: Relaxing chair massage at WWM chair massage station inside Whole Foods Market Lincoln Park

Where: 1550 N Kingsbury (South of North Avenue and Old Navy, North of Division)

Hours: Daily, 12 Noon to 8p.m.

Cost: $6 for 5 minutes, $12 for 10 minutes, $18 for 15 min and $24 for 20 minutes, $35 for 30 minutes

For more info click here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

For the past few years, I’ve been reading and learning more about evidence-based practices, research methods, and, sadly, the paucity of solid research backing up the medical benefits of massage therapy. While some members of the massage community are diligently working to improve the quality and quantity of massage research, there are many misconceptions about massage that have been taught to massage therapists in massage school and then passed on to massage clients. Some of these misconceptions have to do with the idea that “massage releases toxins” (technically, it does not and what people mean by “toxins”is unclear as well), that you must drink water after a massage (often as way to “flush” these said” toxins”). Some massage therapists and massage clients believe massage is a healing modality and that massage can release muscle “knots,”  While massage can reduce muscle tension, the conceptualization of knots in our muscles is misleading.  Many of these claims have either been seriously called into question, or explained to be misconceptions caused by massage school instructors trying to simplify physiological explanations.

More will be revealed about how massage therpy works

More will be revealed about how massage therapy works

That all said, I do believe that massage has some physical, mental and possibly, medical benefits. I do believe that most massage therapists genuinely want to help people feel better, want to use massage as  a healing tool and are doing their best to teach clients what they know about the benefits of massage. And I think that while it is important to understand the mechanism of how massage therapist works on our bodies and minds, for now until the research we need pours forth, I would like to propose a few simple explanations as to how massage can benefit us:

1. Most massage therapy, whether performed on a massage chair or massage table, puts the person being massaged into a really relaxing comfortable position. And in our culture, people rarely have a chance to relax or just sit. If we sit down to relax, we often think we are being lazy or unproductive. So giving ourselves permission to get a massage “for our health” or to “reduce stress” allows us to give ourselves permission to sit down and do relatively nothing for a period of time. It’s not magical. It’s not mystical. But relaxing is good for our health. By sitting down or laying down for a period of time, from 10 minutes to an hour or more, allows our nervous systems to move from sympathetic (fight or flight adrenaline pumping mode) to parasympathetic resting and digesting mode).

Just laying down on a massage table is relaxing

Just laying down on a massage table is relaxing

This may seem obvious to you, and you may think, “well what’s the big deal about that?” The big deal is this, in my experience few people in this culture will take the time to just sit down and do nothing or to lay down and relax, especially during a work day or when the kids needs help with homework or they want to spend time with friends. Relaxing is only socially acceptable if we do it in a structured environment like during a massage or while doing meditation. (Even though yoga was originally designed to calm the nervous system and relax the body, in the U.S., we even add words like “power” to yoga and add weight training to a yoga session! Which in my view, really defeats the purpose of doing yoga in the first place.)

2. Another aspect of our culture is that we are super “busy”…and often touch deprived. Our to do lists have to do lists. If we are not accomplishing, if we are not helping kids, parents or friends or making money (or being good consumers by spending money) we are not being “responsible, we are not being “productive” and we are not being “good” parents, children, neighbors, workers, bosses, employees, friends, community members. We are, in an unspoken way, not supposed to take time for ourselves (unless it is to work out, “power” style) because that is considered to be “selfish.” But getting a massage lets a person take care of him or herself without guilt. Instead of this being a selfish act, getting a massage is now seen an act of self caring. If we do not take care of ourselves, we cannot give to others because we will be too sick or too stressed out to be of much use! When you get a massage we allow ourselves to say, “hey this is my hour, or my ten minutes and I want the attention to be on me. I want to feel good, I want to be touched in a positive,  kind way, without the touch feeling sexual or violent or ticklish. And it is for my health so it’s okay in this instance for me to do something for my self.

Getting a massage gives you a little window of time for self care

Getting a massage gives you a little window of time for self care

Likely down the road, we will be able to use science to explain the psychology of massage through random clinical trails. Someday soon we will be able to point to research that shows more specifically how one person touching another via massage actually causes the recipient’s nervous system to shift into parasympathetic mode. But for now, I am content in my own explanations. I know my clients, and clients of other Working Well Massage therapists, benefit from our massages. I know people relax and enjoy getting massages. The science will come. Until then, we will keep providing relaxation, comfort and care to massage clients. And we will acknowledge and encourage their willingness to take care of themselves.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

This past weekend, we decided to get out of the big city and spend some time in nature!  We went to Raccoon Grove in Monee, IL, and saw our first strong signs of Spring.

Raccoon Grove, Monee, IL

Raccoon Grove, Monee, IL

Green buds poking out of the brown dead leaves was a god sign that Spring really is approaching.

Spring peeking through the Fall leaves

Spring peeking through the Fall leaves

I also took a minute to record the soothing sounds of a bubbling brook. Listening to water rushing over stones, like listening to a small waterfall, can be peaceful and relaxing.  Enjoy the video and make a plan to visit a nearby Forest Preserve soon yourself!

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently I gained  a new Twitter follower, Ted Stark. Ted likely found me via one of my many posts about hiking in nature (with pics included). I checked out Ted’s website, and was visually inspired. Ted’s nature photos make me want to travel and see first-hand the many beautiful sights he captures in his pics. Ted also take great pics of wildlife and urban scenes, but it’s his nature photos that move me the most. To go to Ted’s Website and photo gallery, click on this link.

Ted Stark, photographer

For those of us that live and work in an urban environment, simply looking at photo of a restful nature scene can help relax us for a moment.  Nature pics take us out of our fast paced multitasking mode and give our eyes and minds something to focus on.

Check out Ted’s photos and see for yourself if you are moved or inspired. It’s more likely to relax you than a game of Angry Birds. 🙂



Who is Ted Stark and Why is He So Wild About Wildlife Photos?

From his website: Theodore A. Stark is a Colorado native and an avid nature, wildlife, and architectural photographer. He also does limited portraiture work, focusing in the candid style. Stark is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Management Information Systems. He and his wife, Erin, currently live in Centennial, Colorado.

Stark has been involved with photography since 2001 when he experienced a life changing event that, literally, changed his perspective on the world around. Add to that Stark is a Type I Diabetic and, as he puts it, “… I am aware that I very well may lose my vision at some point, so I should share what I can see while I still can.”

Find Ted’s tweets on Twitter here. And, if you are so moved by his work that you must have some for yourself, he does sell calendars, prints and books of his photography here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I came across an interesting blog from a Wellness Center in New York, The R.E.S.T. Initiative. I really like the post about relaxation and how practicing relaxation exercises may actually change the way your body responds to stress: How Relaxation Exercises Can Heal You – Mind, Body and Spirit.

An excerpt of the article is below:

“Dr. Herbert Benson was quoted in the US News and Planet Report saying, ‘What we’ve discovered is that after you evoke the leisure response, the very genes which can be turned on or off by tension are turned another way. The thoughts can actively flip on and flip off genes. The mind is not separated from your physique.’

His research demonstrates that equally as you may trigger well being issues within the physique by means of way of life choices, it is possible to also create superior well being by means of way of life also. This may be the very first extensive study to indicate how thoughts says can impact gene expression…

Studying to harness your own individual energy and to calmly concentrate inside is often a useful ability for managing hectic instances of tension. Fostering an capability to slow your breathing and decrease your heart rate by way of practiced relaxation strategies is often highly restorative, permitting you to think additional plainly and calmly. Equally as you’ll be able to harm your wellness through tension connected sickness, research are actually being completed to indicate that you can recover your physique by means of employing tactics that relaxed the mind and body. Positive outcomes from rest techniques were long thought to become “all inside the head” with the consumer, but Scientists are now beginning to discover much more definitive evidence that these approaches of relaxation response possess a biofeedback mechanism that alters gene expression.”

To link to the complete post click here.

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Want to relax? Check out this short relaxation video on You Tube from Paul Collier. Link here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Image by Sue Shekut

Flowers make me feel better,  more relaxed and give my overworked mind a rest from planning, analyzing and overall thinking. I send flowers at times to say I am thinking of you to those recovering from illness or for holidays and birthdays. My garden has some very pretty flowers and I can tend to them for a nature fix every day!

Tell me, what do flowers do for you? How do they make you feel?

For an article on the Therapeutic Effect of Flowers, click here.

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