Massage Therapy helps depression and anxiety symptoms

depressionfeel sad, anxious and overwhelmed these feeling can be brief. But when it interferes with daily life it may be a sign that your dealing with something more than feeling blue, depression with accompanying anxiety can affect your health.

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Massage a powerful tool to fight depression and anxiety naturally this is in addition to your other strategies for prevention.

What new research shows: A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry.

In a series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.)

Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

Related articles:
Massage a powerful tool to fight depression and anxiety naturally
CDC – Depression Treatment

7 thing you should know about your posture

  1. Your ears, shoulders, hips, knees , and ankles should align when
  2. When sitting at the office, tilt your screen to avoid craning your neck.
  3. It’s best to sleep on your back on a firm mattress.
  4. Stand up straight
  5. Stand up and look in a mirror. Check out which areas are preventing you from standing up straight. Are your shoulders slouched forward? Is your head down? Is your back bent? Straighten out whatever is slouching and observe the difference.
  6. Your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should make one straight line. Relax your shoulders and slightly bend your knees — you don’t want to look like a robot. If you’re standing for a long period of time, make sure to continue shifting your weight every so often.
  7. If you’re bending down to pick up something, bend your knees and hips; don’t bend down and grab the object with just your waist.

To learn more
Are your shoulders in a forward slump?

How posture contributes to back pain

back-pain from lower cross syndromePosture is important to the overall well-being of your back. Posture is actually affecting you constantly. You have a certain posture when you sleep, when you sit, and when you stand.

You want to try to minimize the stress on your back muscles, which will, in turn relive the lower back pain you may be feeling. You don’t want to pull your shoulders back too far and overcompensate, but you also don’t want to be hunching, or curling your shoulders forward, which will also result in pain.

While you are standing or walking, try to have your shoulders evenly over your hips- not pulling in any way too far to the front or the back. While sitting, it helps most people to have a pillow or a back supporter to put behind their back while sitting.

What to look for… First sit properly, you sit all day long most likely, or if you are on your feet much of the day, you probably spend the evenings sitting. Most people actually do not sit properly. Whether you are hunching your shoulders, not using the proper muscles in your abdomen, or any of the many ways we sit improperly, you need to re-learn how to sit properly. You want to sit up straight, and with your shoulders slightly pulled back, positioned over your hips.

The second tip is quite the opposite- stand! Many people don’t stand often enough if they sit behind a desk for work. Make sure to get up and walk around. Try walking for a few minutes every half hour, or at least every hour, to keep your body moving and feeling more comfortable. The more stationary you are sitting at a desk, the worse your back pain will probably be.

When you’re asleep, you are, most likely, laying in one still position for an extended period of time (several hours). When you are stressing your muscle for a period of time, it might get uncomfortable, but if you are asleep, you may not realize that you need to adjust your body. This leads to stiffness and pain in the morning when you wake up. If you’ve always slept on your side, you’ll probably continue to do so, and the same goes for stomach and back sleepers.

The good thing is there are slight ways to change this cycle. If you are a side sleeper, use a pillow to put in between your legs, to balance out the weight of your legs from pulling the muscles in your back. You can use a pillow you have at home, or you can buy one of the specially designed pillows for just this type of pain. If you are a back or stomach sleeper, you can similarly use a pillow for relief by placing it under your back, or under your stomach, to balance out your body weight. You’ll probably have to try it out for a few nights to get comfortable with it, but you may find easy relief by doing so.

Simple things to do that help…
Heat: A simple, cheap and easy fix for many cases of lower back pain is heat. A homemade rice filled heating bag that can be thrown into the microwave for a few minutes. This will provide almost immediate relief for many cases of back pain. This typically only provides short-term relief, which you can also get by taking a hot bath. If your back pain is minor or only occurs occasionally, this may help you. If you suffer from constant back pain, this may give you temporary relief every now and then, but you will probably need to try more serious fixes.

Bath and Epsom Salts: Epsom salts, and medicated bath salts, can be wonderful for lower back pain. Soaking in a hot bath on its own can be a help for many people, so the addition of the salts can work wonders on back pain. This is because the salts have almost magical ways of relieving muscles that are strained and stressed.

Are you local to Chicago and need help! Restoring proper structure and biomechanics not only alleviates pain, but can positively affect a variety of physiological conditions to learn more

Hallelujah! Home remedy for achy sore muscles

According to the National Academy of Sciences,  American’s magnesium deficiency helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related  illnesses, chronic fatigue and a number of other ailments. Who knew!

Most of us are deficient, our magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. So soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the  easiest ways to get a boost.

Epsom salt: Known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with epsom salt Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin.

Researchers and physicians suggest one of the health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels are a reduction of inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.

Hallelujah! I always knew that soaking in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom salts was good for relaxing muscles and drawing toxins from the body, but I could never figure out why or took the time to investigate it until now.

While there are many different brands of Epsom salt, they are all the same product chemically, and can be found at most drug stores. Add two cups of Epsom  salt and soak for at least 12 minutes. Do this three times weekly.

A recipe to try.  Just run comfortably hot water into the tub and dissolve approximately 2 cups of Epsom Salts into it.  Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil or

  • 10 drops of essential oil of your own choice
  • Half cup of almond oil

Add the above mixture to your bath and soak for at least 20 minutes. While relaxing in your bath you should not use soap as this can affect the actions of the Epsom.

If a full bath is not convenient, you could make a warm compress instead.  Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom Salts into 2 cups comfortably hot water.  Soak a wash cloth or towel in the mixture, squeeze out so it’s not dripping, and apply it to the sore area.  Cover with another dry towel to help keep in the heat. Leave for 10-20 minutes.  Reapply if desired.

For Tired Aching Feet

  • 1 cup of Epsom salt
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oils

Add the above mixture to a foot spa or a bowl large enough to take 2 feet. Soak both your feet for 20 minutes to allow the Epsom to work.

Please note: if you are pregnant or have any health concerns, please check with your  doctor before using Epsom salts.

Try it, did you feel any different after?

For more tips try my other sites:
Perfect your posture
Muscle Therapy for musculoskeletal balance
Live updates

SELF HELP tips for chronic neck pain sufferers

The neck is the most used joint in the human body — it’s also the most injured joint. In many cases, rest and medication aren’t sufficient to repair the damage. So why does this happen?  Neck muscle strain can be a result of repeated movements or maintaining sustained positions. Some examples include:

• Poor sitting alignment while at a desk or computer.
• Working with the shoulders forward which causes the head to tilt back.
• Sleeping in an awkward position.
• Sitting in a car longer than usual.
• Looking up repeatedly – for example: painting a ceiling or computer work.

Seven self-care strategies to empower clients with neck pain are:

1. Stress Relief - While stress will aggravate neck pain, relaxation can ease it. Suggestions for accomplishing this feat include deep abdominal breathing, meditation, visualization and other relaxation techniques.

2. Frequent Breaks – Even though sustained positions foster muscle tightness, this practice is deeply ingrained in our culture. If driving long distances or working long hours in one position, make sure to take frequent breaks. Breaks are best used to stretch, breathe deeply, take a sip of water and return to proper posture.

3. Exercises and Stretches - While some must be prescribed by a physical therapist, a massage therapist can suggest exercises and stretches for the neck as long as they don’t cause pain. Exercises and stretches help reduce pain by restoring muscle function, optimizing posture to prevent overload of muscle and increasing the strength and endurance of the neck muscles. These can include shoulder blade rolls/squeezes/shrugs, cervical extension/flexion, rotation, stretching the front wall chest muscles, strengthening the shoulder muscles and isometric exercises.
4. Hot and Cold Therapy- Most practitioners suggest alternating heat and cold to help a stiff, painful neck. Reduce inflammation by applying a cold pack for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Alternate this approach with heat, either a warm shower or a hot pack, for up to 20 minutes. Heat can help relax sore muscles, but it can aggravate inflammation if the area is red, warm and swollen.
5. Evaluate Ergonomics - Adjusting home or workplace conditions to relieve unnecessary neck stress can go a long way in preventing cervical discomfort. This includes proper positioning of a desk, chair, computer and phone so the screen is at eye level, knees are slightly lower than hips, arms rest comfortably on armrests and the neck is in a relaxed neutral position while on the phone.
6. Sleep Deliberately – Since a lot of neck pain can arise from poor positioning during sleep, deliberately planning a sleep position can prevent a painful neck. Avoid sleeping on the stomach and use a pillow that supports the natural curve of the neck. Back sleepers are advised to use a rounded pillow (neck roll) under the curve of the neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning the head. Side sleepers should keep their spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under the neck than the head. The goal is to prevent overnight neck flexion.

7. Sock and Tennis Balls – A simple homemade device can be used for self-administered cervical acupressure. Put two tennis balls in a sock and tie off the sock so the balls are stationary. Place the tennis balls under the occiput so they are pressing on the hollows under the skull on either side of the spine for about 10 minutes. Lying on this device can help relax taut, posterior neck muscles.

Mara Nicandro NMT, Nctmb has been practicing since 2004, Neuromuscular Therapy treats the underlying problems that most of us experience with chronic pain. For more information
Contribution Mending Hands, Nicole Cutler

Self Help Tips to alleviate Plantar Fasciitis symptoms

What are the signs you may have it. Pain in your heel at the bottom of the foot, usually worse after a period of sitting or inactivity or worse with first step out of bed in the morning.

The following are some helpful tips you can do to help you deal with the symptoms until it fully heals.

  • Put shoes by the side of the bed so that you step into them first thing when you get out of bed to stop reinjuring the fascia.
  • Roll a tennis ball or golf ball under your foot to massage the bottom of your foot.
  • Strengthening the calf muscle is key to resolving this problem.
  • Freeze a water bottle and roll it under your foot often.
  • Lose weight

How massage can help!

  • Postural rebalancing and realigning is necessary to take the stress off the area.
  • Lengthening the calf muscles, hip flexors, hip rotators, TFL’s, psoas, usually helps.

Related Articles:
Mara’s Health Articles
Facebook page is dedicated to body awareness and improving posture

“Elite Care Leads To Effective Muscle Recovery”
Mara Nicandro NMT, Nctmb
My practice is located in the Wicker Park Neighborhood of Chicago