By Guest Blogger: Sarah Therkildsen
As summer quickly approaches, many of us are looking forward to the bright sun, sweet breezes, and some time for fun and relaxation. If you are like me, however, you may be realizing how full your calendar is already looking, and it is taking some of the summer breeze out of your sails. Besides the ongoing stresses of daily life, the weather often draws us outdoors, quickly increasing our physical exertion. The heat also can take its toll, causing swelling in joints and limbs. These are all great reasons to remember massage is our friend and a great way to continue self care. Let’s take a closer look at these four ways:
1. Increased Outdoor Recreation and Exercise
The advent of summer brings the joy of being outdoors again,. Our level of activity can ramp up rapidly, which can take its toll on our bodies. Even if you have been going to the gym this winter or attending a fitness class, chances are you are doing different activities and using different muscles this time of year. Whether you are running longer miles, mountain biking, golfing, swimming, playing disc golf, or even just kicking the ball around with your kids, these changes in activity can lead to muscle fatigue, aches, and strains. Massage helps reduce pain, increase flexibility, decrease our chances of injury, and helps keep our energy up during this active season.
2. Increased Yard Work and Outdoor Projects
Spring and summer for me always means at least a little bit of yard work. Weeding, pushing a lawn mower, carrying bags of mulch or loads of garden rocks, maintaining a pool along with other big outdoor projects we may tackle this season, cause stress on our bodies. Even weeding for only 15 minutes puts strain on my muscles despite using proper body mechanics, and I know my back and shoulders are especially vulnerable during the summer. Massage can help decrease inflammation and pain and help rid the body of toxins so we can stay active and recover more quickly.
3. Increased Swelling in Joints and Limbs
Along with the fun that warmer weather brings, it can also bring an increase in swelling in our limbs and joints. If you wear rings on your fingers, have you ever noticed a ring feeling tighter in the summer and almost slipping off in the winter? Even if the swelling is not visually noticeable, it often is still there as heat and humidity can lead to a static accumulation of fluid. Massage will improve circulation in the entire body, and lymphatic massage is designed to push fluids throughout the body, helping to improve circulation and rid the body of excessive fluid, thus decreasing swelling and discomfort.
4. Increased Stress
Besides the normal day to day activities that we have during the rest of the year, summer often brings an increase in social outings. Barbeques, beach trips, weddings, having the kids home from school, vacation planning, vacation, and recovering after vacation (am I right?) quickly add up and we can find ourselves busier than we anticipated. As fun as summer is, it is still important to carve out some time for that self care that Alicia talked about last month. Relax and de-stress. Massage can decrease anxiety and tension and increase our energy levels, helping us to keep up with all the fun of summer and truly be able to relax and enjoy it all.
by Guest Blogger Alicia Hileski, LMT
Stress kills (maybe not directly, but indirectly.) It's a fact that stress is incredibly damaging to the body. The body naturally releases adrenaline and cortisol to combat stress by going into the flight or fight mode. This is for survival. However, when we consistently and daily carry stress in our body, we start to develop health problems such as anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, heart disease, sleeplessness, weight gain, memory impairment and more. It may eventually end in death! This is why self-care is so important.
If our body is always depleted and we are in constant stress mode, how can we expect to care for our loved ones at full capacity? Think of when you travel on an airplane and the flight attendants give the safety talk. They always tell passengers to " please put on your own oxygen mask first before attempting to help others." How can we be expected to help others be well if we are not well ourselves?
Taking time to care for yourself shouldn't be viewed as selfish. You are simply taking the time to reboot, recharge, refresh and become an even better version of yourself. Ideally, this healthy version of you will trickle down the human chain to others and maybe with a little bit of grace, will brighten someone else's day.
There are many different variations of self care, including massage therapy (or any form of therapy for that matter), going for a walk, reading a good book, being in good company, disconnecting from electronics and the constant hustle and bustle of life are just a few. Maybe you just really need a nap! Whatever suits your fancy and helps you relax (and that isn't harmful to you or others). We all react differently to stress, so we are all going to have different ways of unwinding and relaxing.
It may be tempting to stay up late to cram in those last household chores or answer emails, but really, the world won’t end if the laundry is dirty for another day, or if the dishes are piled up in the sink. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, poor cognition, impaired reflexes and response time (think car accidents!) and can contribute to depression and anxiety.
By Guest Blogger Adam Brown, LMT, NHE, MCT
When most people think of sports massage, they typically imagine a lot of stretching and
deep tissue work. They might even imagine pain. Good therapists vary their pressure
greatly according to their client’s comfort level and desired depth of bodywork, but it is not
uncommon for greater amounts of pressure in localized areas to cause a pain response in
the massage recipient. This is typically characterized by muscle “guarding” or tensing and
either a sharp inhale of breath or holding the breath all together. Both of these responses
tend to be counterproductive as far as the overall goal of most massage sessions is
concerned, which is to provide therapeutic relaxation to muscles and soft tissue in order to
reduce pain and tension and decrease injuries.
Another often overlooked positive outcome of effective massage work is a relaxation of the
autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system has two branches, or two sides
of the coin, if you will: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. You may
have heard these two branches referred to colloquially as the “fight or flight” and the “rest
and digest” systems respectively. If you struggle with keeping the two straight, just think ‘S’
for stress and sympathetic and ‘P’ for peace and parasympathetic.
The primary functions of the parasympathetic nervous system are well illustrated by the
phrase “rest and digest” (and we could also add reproduce). These functions allow the body
to build, repair, heal, and carry on life, so to speak. Conversely, the sympathetic nervous
system kicks into gear in dangerous and/or stressful situations, elevating the heart rate,
increasing muscle tone, and essentially getting one ready for action. From the viewpoint of
evolutionary biology, we can understand how it would be beneficial to quickly go from a
state of rest to a state of flight if we think of our ancestors’ needs to evade predators at a
moment’s notice in order to survive.
Our bodies function best when they can actively switch between the parasympathetic and
sympathetic nervous systems as our environment dictates. However, our achievement
driven Western society has conditioned most of us to remain in a constant state of fight or
flight. While there is not necessarily a saber-toothed tiger chasing us on a regular basis, as
there may have been for our ancestors, we often experience similar physiological response
to the stressors of daily life -- running late for work, traffic on the daily commute, public
speaking, first dates, parenting, etc. And these metaphorical predators never quite seem to
go away as we hold on to them in our anxious thoughts and worries from day to day.
The reason it is important to understand the difference between the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous system and the effect massage has on them is that being stuck in a
constant state of fight or flight (or freeze) has been shown to have many health detriments,
such as weight gain and a depressed immune system. The pressure applied in a moderate to
deep tissue massage (done without eliciting a pain response) can help activate the
parasympathetic nervous system and slow down the sympathetic nervous system. So, yes,
it’s actually good for you to learn to relax!
One of the best ways I have found to provide my clients the deep, relaxing pressure they
desire while eliciting as little pain response as possible, is a specialized massage technique
known as Ashiatsu. This modality utilizes the therapist’s feet instead of their hands to
provide broad, deep pressure. Ashiatsu is ideal for achieving deeper pressure with little to
no pain because the surface area of the ‘tool’ applying the pressure is increased and long,
smooth, stokes are used to maintain consistent pressure throughout. One of my clients said
after their “ashi” session that it reminded them of the comfort of a weighted blanket.
In addition to the benefits to your muscles and nervous system, Ashiatsu can also help
improve posture and circulation, decrease chronic pain, and improve joint mobility.
Ashiatsu is available at our sports massage center for sessions of 60 or 90 minutes. Schedule
your Ashi massage today and let me help chase your saber- tooth tigers away!
Moderate pressure of massage can cause a parasympathetic nervous system response:
Increased sympathetic nervous system activity demonstrate in obese patients:
By: Guest Blogger, Jessica Slager LMT
As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I find my greatest satisfaction is in helping people who are suffering from emotional trauma, PTSD, physical limitations and/or have some other special emotional or physical needs.
Massage therapy can help people feel comfortable, by providing a safe environment where they can receive touch and healing for their body and soul. As a massage therapist, I also help teach people safe and effective self-soothing and stress reduction techniques. Massage can be very beneficial for people who are receiving talk therapy with a trained professional, as well as those who are struggling with disassociation.
According to PTSD United, approximately 24.4 million people are suffering from PTSD at any given time. Long term effects of dealing with either PTSD or trauma can include sleeplessness, flashbacks, depression, anxiety, anger, chronic pain, fatigue to name a few. Massage therapy can actually help to “retrain the brain.” No matter if the trauma is emotional or physical, large or small, it causes a reaction between the mind and body’s autonomic nervous system. This results in a “flight or fight” response. Even long after a trauma has occurred, the subconscious mind still remembers. Retraining the brain doesn’t happen over night -it takes time for the brain to form new pathways.
As reported in Massage Today, massage sessions result in positive biochemical changes in the body, such as increased serotonin and dopamine. The over all effect of this is a noticeable reduction in feelings of fear and anxiety. Studies also show trauma clients who receive massage therapy have up to 30% lower cortisol levels after the massage, and they showed a significant reduction in physical pain, tension, anxiety, worry and depression.
During a massage, the therapist addresses muscles, tendons and soft tissues in the body. Massage can help to work out knots and stress, relieve pain and increase flexibility. Compassionate human touch stimulates positive feeling hormones in the body and starts the relaxation process. Relieving stress, decreasing anxiety, reducing depression and improving personal mood are all positive outcomes massage may provide.
Guest KAWBlog entry by: Mike Limerick, AT, LMT
While living in Florida, I had the luxury of running and cycling year round, although the “curse” of near perfect weather every day did lead to some “over-training” injuries, or “itises” (a fancy medical term for inflammation), as I like to call them. Now, fast forward to my life in Michigan, I find my training starts to diminish during the winter months, due to frigid temperatures and/or snowy, icy roads and trails. However, both in Florida and in Michigan, we still find athletes getting the same injuries. Despite the winter slow down, overuse is still a real issue. So, here are three easy ways to help prevent/decrease your chances of getting the "itises":
1. Massage & Bodywork
Receiving regular massage and/or bodywork throughout the whole year will definitely help keep you healthy. Think about your vehicle - you perform regular maintenance on it to improve its longevity, so why not perform regular maintenance on your body? Massage is a great way to become more attuned to your body, recognizing where restrictions, or soreness might be developing. Also, it speeds up recovery by flushing out metabolic waste, bringing in nutrients while decreasing soreness to the overworked muscles, allowing you to exercise with fresh legs the next day. At home, using a foam roller for 30 to 60 seconds for five repetitions has shown to result in an increase in range of motion and a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (Button, 2014).
2. Focus on the Basics During Your Off Season
Working on your form during the off-season is a must. Studies show that most people gravitate back to our most habitual movements, which often sets us up for failure. For runners, that means we start mimicking our walking patterns. This may cause over striding and heavy heel striking, which increases our chances of getting hurt. I recommend joining a club or camp and/or working with a coach, or sports specialist. Remember, concentrating on form not only reinforces the movement pattern for your sport, but it also improves your efficiency. This causes your body to utilize less energy, which increases your endurance and will definitely help you set a new PR. As the saying goes “If you don’t use it you lose it.”
3. Cross Train
You never see a professional athlete play his sport and call it a day. These individuals are working side by side with strength and conditioning coaches, hitting the weights, running, spinning, jumping, crawling and anything else that’s thrown at them. The purpose of cross training is to not only maintain your conditioning but also to strengthen the body in ways your primary sport does not. This allows those muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are normally stressed to rest and adapt. So choose activities that are completely different from your sport. Runners may swim to give their bodies a rest from the constant impact force during landing. Cyclists may play racket ball to add impact and multi angular movements that are neglected while riding their bikes.
Remember, listen to your body, keep moving, and always have fun. Cheers!
Button, D. (2014, April).
Foam rolling: Early study findings suggest benefits. Retrieved from https://lermagazine.com/article/foam-rolling-early-study-findings-suggest-benefits
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Has it really been five years? In early 2013, the dream and future vision for KAW was
firmly in my head, but I was happily working for SolSpring and assumed that
the reality of opening my own business would be at least 5 years down the road. Then
their main location unexpectedly closed and I realized that the time was NOW to
make my move. My dream was to offer the highest quality massage therapy and
personal training in the Kalamazoo area, with a special emphasis on athletes. I also
envisioned partnering with a chiropractor, health coach and sports psychologist – in
short, to provide a “one stop” health and wellness facility to support athletes and the
The first 2 years was rough – I won’t lie! I think I gained about 20 pounds! Start up
money was minimal and the challenges/stresses of starting up a new business and raising a new family were
very real. I was feeling confident in what we were doing, but was also frustrated at the snail pace of growth. However, I persevered with the help and support of my family and friends – and here we are, celebrating five years!
And the best is yet to come!
In February 2019, we are planning to move to a new,
expanded location on S. Westnedge Ave, in partnership with Antoniotti Chiropractic.
Our new facility will have more therapy rooms, giving us the opportunity to also
add a sports psychologist – another piece of my initial dream of providing
comprehensive, all-inclusive, personalized, holistic health and wellness services
under one roof.
This move will involve changes – which are often hard and uncomfortable, while
they are happening. But the end result will be worth it all!
I am very proud and humbled by the great team of people who have come together
to make Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness so successful. I want to give a shout out to
everyone here past and present– I could not have done it without you!
And a big “THANK YOU” to all our clients (both individual and corporate) who have taken a chance on KAW and
allowed us the opportunity to work with you – especially the Western Michigan
University football team. Without you, we would have surely perished in those first few years!
One lesson I have learned over the last five years is to say “Yes” more often. It hasn’t
always been easy, but it has been fun. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and I
can’t wait to see what the next five years bring!
Today I wanted to share the story of one of our Massage Therapists, Jillian Strobel, and her journey to Africa. She left last year to pursue what she felt was her calling and now she is back in Kalamazoo. Here is a taste of her amazing journey.
"For the past 9 months I've had the privilege to do Missionary work in Uganda, Africa. I went by myself to Uganda and worked with two different organizations. One of them is called Amahoro Children's Home. This organization is focused on housing orphan children, educating them and helping them with any of their needs. I got to spend 5 months teaching the kids, playing with them and having one on one counseling with some of them. This group was amazing! I also got to work with another organization called Kyampisi Childcare Ministry (KCM) which focused on helping Children that have been victims of Child Sacrifice. I was exposed to a whole different world at KCM, not knowing much about Child Sacrifice, I learned a lot and got to be around the kids that have gone through these horrible experiences. I got to befriend them, help them, encourage them, etc. It was an honor being there, working so closely with them and I now get to help expose to the world, through progressively writing a book about what is actually happening in Uganda, the struggles and the hardships. Also to show the world that Ugandans are a people with more love, joy, strength and peace than you can ever imagine. There is something so special about them...there is something so special about Uganda. It was a very rewarding experience that I will never forget. I even got to use my massage knowledge/skills to help a little boy (a victim of Child Sacrifice) recovering from surgery, using techniques I knew for water physical therapy! It was so cool!
Moving forward, I am continuing writing, and also still working on projects with some of my Ugandan friends. My encouragement to you is if something has been placed in your heart to do, don't just sit and think about it. Do it. Your whole world can change just by taking a small step."
I realize it's been a while since I have written anything in the KAWBlog. The good news is that I have been busy working on growing and expanding Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness to provide our clients with a growing list of options among a cohesive network of specialists. One thing that has become abundantly clear during that time, is that it is hard to grow when people don't show. We all recognize that life sometimes happens, and that is why initially we had set a very soft request to give 24 hours notice of cancellation with no repercussions in place. But there is nothing more annoying than a client who frequently no shows or cancels a massage just hours before their session. All massage therapists rely on the commissions of clients coming in for services. For a majority of the massage industry (save for a few "massage factories" as we call them) it is far more important to us that you are getting proper care vs. how often you come in, but we also need to make a living. Someone not showing for a session can be a big cut into our pay. That is why after much discussion we have moved forward with a cancellation policy that is similar to what a majority of the industry holds true. Below is what we are putting in place:
We recommend scheduling all appointments 24 hours advance, unless otherwise posted or advertised. If you require a same day appointment, you may call 269-373-1000 for availability or check through our website www.kzooathleticwellness.com (Online appointments cannot be made within 4 hours of scheduled time).
Please respect our time and the time of others. When you schedule an appointment, your appointment is blocked just for you to ensure you receive the full amount of time you have requested. Our therapists are paid on a commission base. Late arrival to an appointment means less time with a therapist. You may stay, but you will only receive the balance of your session and you will still pay the full price. We recommend clients plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes before their session to ensure there is adequate time for paperwork or unforeseen traffic conditions.
NOTICE OF CANCELLATION POLICY
We request notification of cancellation as soon as possible and must be received by phone if within 24 hours. Clients who cancel their reservations within 24 hours will not incur a fee the first time; subsequent cancellations may be charged a $30 cancellation fee for the first three occurrences after being assessed on a case by case basis. In the event of a no-show (client fails to arrive for scheduled appointment with no notice via phone) the client will be charged full price for the scheduled session. Four or more cancellations and/or no-shows may require a client to pay in advance for services. Therapists are not required to wait longer than 15 minutes for late arrivals who have not called ahead. If you are tardy for your appointment by 15 minutes or more and the therapist has not heard from you, the therapist has the right to leave the site or refuse service and consider you a no-show for your appointment. From there, no-show policies will apply.
Thank you and stay healthy!
As the Broncos create history with their currently undefeated season I can't help but feel amazed that I get to be a part of it. This is our fourth season working with the team alongside the strength and conditioning crew to keep the players healthy and ready to be ELITE. Watching the growth of these players has been an absolute dream come true. I wanted to take some time to chat with Coach Dan Nichol, head strength coach for the team, about why they chose to include massage as a part of the conditioning for these players.
Coach Nichol is a man of large stature, and obviously must have played linebacker or defensive end during his own college career at Springfield College in Massachusetts. You can usually see him on the sidelines keeping players and coaches wrangled behind the sidelines. Before each play he gets into his ingrained athletic stance as if his body has not let go of being right in there with the players. The first time I ever spoke with Dan was over the phone regarding getting the team massages during the first preseason camp of the PJ Fleck era. I honestly could only understand half of what he said due to his thick Bostonian accent. "My wife is from twenty minutes away from me and she is sometimes like 'hey, WHAT?" Dan admits. After four years however I have gained an ear for it, or maybe our Michigan accents are melding in and creating a hybrid I can understand. Whatever the case, we sat down together after the team went 9-0 for the first time ever and we discussed our involvement in this historical achievement.
When we first came in I was told that massage was a key component that Coach Fleck wanted to have in the conditioning program. When I asked Dan why that was he explained, "I think it's really important for our guys, we want them to stay healthy and cut down on your risk of any soft tissue injuries. You see out there sometimes with athletes soft tissue issues hold them back. Which should never happen. You should always continue to improve the structure of the body. " He went on to say, "Now with post game, post game recovery [we] get that done on Sunday, get the body felling pretty elite. It's a huge part, huge part of the process in getting these guys recovered and ready for the next week."
When asked about his personal experience with the benefits of massage Coach Nichol said, "It's been outstanding, I mean huge with mobility work. I'm a pretty stiff guy, especially upper back and neck and everything. It's just tremendous, you feel like a different person when you are done with a massage."
While I see the smiling faces and get the praise directly from the players, I wanted to know what benefits Coach saw in the athletes. "It's tremendous in helping your body mentally and physically, I think more mentally than anything. You see a kid comes out after a fifteen minute massage it's amazing, they just feel like a new person. They open up different pathways in their bodies that were maybe been blocked by tissue and things like that. These guys just feel amazing. And then they love it, they love it, they really enjoy it." He elaborated, "The recovery has been more efficient. Returning to play and also mobility, mobility is huge. That's improved a lot in our hips and our backs, hamstrings, those types of things. I think it's a credit to the massage work we've done in here on a weekly basis. Now there are other ways, other opportunities to do that, but this huge, this something that somebody comes in and does this for them. You don't have [that] everywhere. We have it here. That's our way, that's our advantage."
"We maximize every opportunity to improve the body, improve the recovery, with our hydration, with our eating, with our sleeping. And [massage] is a part of it. It also helps out the emotional side. Keeps the three fires burning, physical, mental, and emotional. Keeping those on high, this is another piece...this is a piece that makes them different." says Coach. "You know, and taking advantage of it, taking advantage of these opportunities to grow and take care of the body. Huge, huge part in their recovery."
On a personal note, I asked Coach Nichol what the hardest thing about coaching was. "Everyday is a challenge, but everyday is paradise. You know, it's really not a job, it's a passion." I smiled internally at the simple yet powerful statement that it was. "The best part of the challenge is when you see guys grow, from a boy to a man. You know, a guy that takes the leadership. Leads others and influences others. We've got a tremendous group of leaders here, that have done a tremendous job. They have a love for the game, and a love for each other. They play for each other."
I can only fathom how incredible it has been for this group boys to become men and achieve something very few people have the pleasure of achieving. But as every coach will tell you, take it one day at a time, one game at a time. Now that I have come this far on my own personal journey, I know I can achieve more if I just keep rowing the boat.
I met Linda Elstun a little over four and a half years ago. From the first time I worked on her I knew she was one of a kind. Strong, driven, humorous, and humble. When I heard I was going to get my first Cross Fit client I had no idea what I was in for. I had never heard of Cross Fit. I thought I was gonna get someone who was a cross trainer, and in walked this woman in her late forties with arms as big as mine, and the thighs of an NFL running back. I was instantly amazed at the power she possessed. After four years that strength has never ceased to amaze me. I felt her story needed sharing.
Linda grew up competing in gymnastics, beginning at age eight and continuing throughout college. After graduation, she participated in triathlons but then began to focus more on cycling. Five years ago, a friend introduced her to CrossFit*, a community-based exercise and fitness program. “I thought my competitive days were over, but I qualified for the CrossFit Games Master Competition in 2012 [where she placed 13th]. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from putting yourself on the line. It is scary, but being able to overcome fear and perform at your best really contributes to a feeling of accomplishment,” explains Linda.
Then the unthinkable happened. In 2014, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had just returned from her second Cross Fit Games, where she had placed 4th a mere 26 points out of 3rd place. She was already implementing plans to improve her athletic performance, but instead, found herself formulating a plan to beat her cancer. After a a few months of Chemotherapy, Linda chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy due to complications with the chemotherapy. She followed this with three months of daily radiation. “[I] thought it would be easier to deal with no boobs rather than just one!” She explains with that trademark humor. In July of 2015 her treatment was complete.
Linda is now in remission and she recently returned from competing in the 2016 Cross Fit Games where she placed 17th, (with a smile on her face) exactly one year after finishing radiation treatment! She says that trying to recover her fitness level was extremely difficult and frustrating. “ My family and friends are super-supportive, and my training partner really helped me stay motivated,” she says. “I am still working on getting back to my top level of competition but I am happy with my progress.” Her goals for for next season is to strengthen her weaknesses, particularly running.
As a competitive athlete, busy wife and grandmother, how does she take care of herself? Linda says that eating a proper diet, getting plenty of sleep and receiving massage are keys to maintaining her health, especially as an older athlete. “Massage therapy is an indispensable tool in my recovery arsenal. Nick is able to apply techniques that reduce my recovery time and soreness, while improving my muscle function and efficiency. In combination with stretching, I believe that a well-timed massage can cut recovery time in half. Less recovery means more time for quality training and sustained daily exertion.”
Linda’s advice to older adults just starting an exercise program is, “Be patient. Be consistent. Don’t give up.” Regarding her cancer, she hesitates to call herself “cancer-free.” She knows there are no guarantees. But, she reminds us that no one has any guarantees. Thanks, Linda, for sharing your story and inspiration.
Thank you to Linda Elstun for always being an inspiration to me and those you have daily contact with!
(Linda is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan)
*CrossFit is a unique exercise/fitness program developed by Greg Glassman. It consists of constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity. The community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together is a key component of why CrossFit is so popular and effective. CrossFit is customized to fit every individual’s ability and goals and sponsors regional and national competitions. For more information, check out www.crossfit.com."
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
|Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness||
tHE kaw bLOG