Choosing a Massage Therapist Wisely

Massage therapy is in what I would consider, a revival stage. Although its therapeutic value is undeniable, the general public is again realizing the value of massage as a potent, natural medicine. Massage had previously been associated with luxury and used by those with disposable income. Now, massage is being sought out by all for injury prevention, rehabilitation, pain management, stress relief, and more.

Though massage can be beneficial, the massage therapist must be skilled in order to provide an effective treatment.  Otherwise, the client may end up with nothing more than a rub down with oil and a one hour nap.  Therefore, choosing a massage therapist should be done carefully. A few things to be mindful of when choosing a massage practitioner or therapist:

1.  The client should be comfortable with the therapist. Many clients feel that a massage is just a massage, no matter who is on the giving end. This is not true.  A more effective treatment is possible, when both parties are comfortable. If the client feels uncomfortable during the massage session, the treatment is producing the opposite result. It is imperative that the client be able to relax while being massaged.

2.  The needs of the client and the therapy of the massage practitioner should match. The massage patient looking for pain management should be looking for a therapist that works with pain. An individual looking for massage for injury rehabilitation should identify a massage therapist that works with trauma and injuries. There are different specialties of massage therapy and matching the treatment desired to the massage therapist is important to achieving a successful massage session. Many massage therapists will list the styles of bodywork they specialize in along with their credentials. Checking the skills of the therapist before a visit will reduce the chance of undesired treatments.

3.  The knowledge and skills of the practitioner is very important. A massage therapist should be able to name most, if not all, of the aching muscles in the client’s body. Ideally, the therapist should know the origin and attachments of the major muscles to bones. Treating the human body correctly through massage requires an understanding of the structure and function of the anatomical parts. Along with the theoretical knowledge of the human body, a therapist should also have the massage techniques to apply a course of treatment. This is more important when dealing with injury, rehabilitation, or sports massage. Theory without proper application is as fruitless as application without understanding.

4.  Working with the same massage therapist can eventually lead to a more customized, effective treatment. When a massage therapist is working on a client, he/she is learning about that person’s body. After a couple of sessions with the same client, the massage practitioner begins to understand where the aches and pains are typically located on the client. This understanding through repetition allows the therapist to gain knowledge about the client’s body and what techniques are most effective for the particular person.

5.  The least expensive massage usually has the lowest quality. There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for. The same holds true for massage therapy. There are many massage offices providing cheap massages using less-skilled therapists. These offices provide a way to give treatment to those who cannot afford to pay higher prices. There are also massage offices providing expensive massages with all of the bells and whistles that come with pampered care. This spa-type establishment caters toward a more affluent clientele. This does not mean that the more expensive treatment is always better.  Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. The truth is that there is a market for both types of massage services. Though, one must pay closer attention to the massage therapists rather than the massage establishment. A suggestion would be to shop around and experience the different types of massage offices and spas available in the local area. That way, the client is more apt to separating the good from the bad, and more suited to finding the perfect massage therapist for them.

Labor Massage and Acupressure For Pain Relief

Labor is a human experience that spans a multitude of emotional states. Women will feel joy, pain, happiness, sadness, anger, love, fear, apprehension, courage, bravery, and a host of other feelings that will come and go in preparation for bringing new life into the world.

One overriding thought of many women during labor is “Can I deal with the pain?”. The true answer is yes. A woman is built to endure the physical and emotional stress of childbirth. Her body will release hormones during labor that will lessen pain, contract the uterus, prevent hemorrhaging, and protect mother and baby during labor. Of course, much of the strength and ability to deal with the pain is found inside of the pregnant woman herself. The rest of the labor pain management will come from the woman’s support personnel, such as a husband, doula, and/or midwife.

The support person has probably been told that massaging the laboring woman is beneficial in helping her deal with the pain. Massage the low back. Massage the shoulders.  Massage the hips. Massage where it hurts. The attending support person will be asked to do this many times over the course of the labor period in varying degrees of pressure.

Massage is already known to be useful in managing the pain of labor. Massaging a painful area reduces intensity of pain, in most cases. It seems to innately occur during labor, by a loving husband or family member. Acupressure, though, is still a growing segment of a labor management plan. Like massage, acupressure uses the hands to manipulate the woman’s body. But, the focus is on pressing certain acupuncture points with the fingers, in order to provoke a certain response based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This acupressure is a focused style of massage that can aid the smooth progression of the entire labor process. Using acupressure in combination with regular massage will allow the support person to play an even larger part in the labor and delivery process.

Some of the acupressure points (in no particular order) that can be used during labor:

  • SP-6 (Sanyinjiao) – Can help with cervical dilation and used to promote labor
  • UB-67 (Zhiyin) – Can be used to help turn the baby, if in a posterior position
  • LI-4 (Hegu) – Used to stabilize and regulate contractions, reduce pain, promote delivery of placenta
  • LV-3 (Taiyin) – Can help with cervical dilation and ease emotional constraint and apprehension
  • UB-32(Ciliao) – Helps relieve back pain and resolves cervical lip
  • GB-21(Jianjing) – Helps relieve pain and promote descending of baby
  • UB-60(Kunlun) – Can help to reposition baby from posterior position and helps in delivery of placenta

Using massage and acupressure in labor can: help mother to focus, organize labor contractions, progress stalled labor, alleviate nausea, reduce pain. Massage and acupressure can both be utilized in all 3 stages of labor, from prelabor through to delivery of the placenta.

As a support person, some of the keys to providing good massage and acupressure during labor:

  1. Listen to the laboring woman. Usually, the woman knows exactly where the support person’s hands should be placed and what pressure should be used.
  2. Understand the different stages of labor, so that the acupressure can be modified to move along with the labor.
  3. Practice. Acupressure and massage techniques are most valuable when correct posture and body mechanics are being used. Proper form and technique will reduce fatigue. Ask your acupuncturist, massage therapist, or other labor specialist to go over these techniques with you.
  4. Enlist the aid of massage tools.  This can reduce the strain on the hands and may provide pinpoint accuracy in stimulating acupressure points.

August Point Wellness offers private classes on massage and acupressure during labor. Please inquire for details and visit our website:  http://www.augustpoint.com

NOTE:  Acupuncture is a powerful ally that can be used in a managed labor plan.  Some acupuncturists will also offer to be on call in order to be available to administer acupuncture during your labor. Please ask your acupuncturist if this is can be an option for you. Some hospitals will not allow L.Ac’s to perform acupuncture in the labor and delivery room.  Please contact your hospital for more information.  Many birth centers see the benefits and will allow the use of acupuncture and other natural therapies to be performed during the labor process.  Please contact your birth center for more information.

CA – California Pushing for Acupuncture to be Covered By Insurance

AB72.

Some of us acupuncturists treat patients on a cash only basis.  Others accept insurance.  Regardless, we all know that only certain insurance companies cover for acupuncture.  These insurance companies control the way medicine is used in the U.S.

Now, there is an effort being put together that is trying “to get every healthcare service plan, except a plan that enters exclusively into specialized health care service plan contracts, and every disability insurer issuing policies on a group wide basis, to provide acupuncture coverage under those terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by the parties.”

If you are in favor of such a plan, please contact Assemblyman Mike Eng to find out what you can do to support it.
Note that there are pros and cons to this bill.  Understand what you are voting for before doing so.  But, also understand that doing nothing only does nothing for the acupuncture community.

Read more about it here:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/health/2011-02/26/c_13750970.htm

http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_72/20112012/

http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a49/

When Life is Giving You Labor, Drink Laborade! Naturally!

Labor is like a marathon, not a sprint. Or so I’m told. Since I’ve got a Y chromosome, I won’t have to personally go through this amazing event. I will soon see all of the action as a support person and spectator. All of the women that have gone through this rite of passage understand that it has been given the name “labor” for a reason.

Labor is work.  Hard work.  There’s sweat, blood, and tears.  And more sweat, blood, and tears.  Labor can go on for hours, and for some unlucky few it can go on for days.  The act of labor is strenuous and a woman’s body needs to be nourished and hydrated continuously for the strength and endurance to complete the task.

For hydration, some hospitals will start an IV drip of saline.  If you’ve decided that you want to skip the IV and take fluids through your stomach, some Labor and Delivery Rooms will allow this. For an off-the-shelf drink, there’s always the Powerade, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Recharge, etc.  Although the above prepackaged drinks are great in providing electrolytes and sugar to your body, sometimes they can cause stomach upset and increase an already unhappy digestive system.  Other people have found the branded electrolyte drinks to have too much sugar, or too many artificial colors/sweeteners to be palatable.

Well, if you’re looking for a drink that can be helpful as well as customizable to your tastes, look no further!  Below is the labor drink that can be prepared for your work at the hospital and/or ingested throughout the labor marathon you are about to embark upon.  These drinks are full of electrolytes and will help you get the nutrients to support your body through labor and beyond!

  • LABORADE
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 calcium tablets, crushed
  • 1 qt water

Don’t forget about the benefits of COCONUT WATER.  This wonderful drink has potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes. It’s also naturally isotonic, containing the same level of electrolytic balance as our own bodies.  The low amounts of sugar make it less irritating to the stomach as well.

A nice easy rule of thumb to follow would be to drink about 1 cup of fluid for every hour of labor.  Let the laboring begin!