As many of you have heard by now, both the CDC and MDHHS have updated their mask policies regarding Covid-19. This is awesome news as we reach for achieving the endemic level of this multiple years long crisis. So what is the skinny on the changes and what does that mean for your sessions at KAW?
The CDC is feeling confident enough with our current ability to mitigate severe illness from Covid, via vaccines and proven medical interventions, to change risk level metrics to hospitalizations and deaths and not just total cases. They are calling this "Community Level". The new system can be checked right on the CDC website to determine by county the community risk level. The new system is far simpler with only 3 categories of community level and clear instructions on mask use for those three categories. The MDHHS has eliminated mandated mask requirements and is leaving the decision up to all of us to protect ourselves and each other when needed. The CDC generally remarks that masks are needed when someone has symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 and/or when a county is at a High risk level. They also highly encourage people continue to use masks in areas of dense population like grocery stores and public transportation.
At KAW we felt it was important to find a policy that reflects the CDC's as they are the experts on these things, and we trust the experts. So our policy will be flexible and fluid and will be tied to the current community risk level in Kalamazoo County. Here's how it looks:
We really want to thank everyone who has remained patient with the ever changing process that Covid-19 has created. We want to also thank the countless hours scientists and medical professionals have dedicated to fighting this battle. While we aren't 100% out of the woods yet, and we may still have to work through a few more waves before we see a true end to this pandemic, we are indeed much closer to the end thanks to everyone who did their part.
The new risk level system can be checked right on the CDC website or use the form on our home page check your counties community level!
It is not uncommon for people to have questions about massage therapy, even if it’s something they have received before. We are always happy to answer any question you may have, but here are a few we hear often.
Q: Do I need to be an athlete to receive services?
A: Absolutely not. We serve a wide variety of clients of all ages and from all walks of life. We simply cater to the athletic minded and hardworking individuals.
Q: Can I receive a relaxation massage?
A: Of course. While all our therapists are expertly trained in additional modalities, we were all “brought up” on the Swedish relaxation massage as the foundation of bodywork. We all enjoy the day to day challenge of figuring out how to help individuals on a deeper level and, “I just want to relax!”, can be just as important!
Q: What should I wear or not wear during my massage?
A: In the automated confirmation emails we send out, we suggest you bring shorts and a tank top or sports bra. This is not required, but can be useful if your sessions will include a lot of stretching or movement. Many clients will either fully undress or leave on their underwear or shorts. Our massage therapists are well versed in working with and modestly draping clients in any state of dress or undress, though. Even if you are undressed, many therapists can and will still employ certain stretching techniques and just manipulate the sheet(s) in such a way to keep you well covered.
Ultimately, our primary concern is your comfort level. Even if you want to stay fully dressed, you may do so, although it may alter the flow of the massage or change which techniques a therapist can and cannot use.
Q: How will I know which Massage Therapist is best for me?
A: We understand that everyone has approaches that do and don’t work for them. “Every-body” is different, we like to say. Visit our About Us section of the website. It provides detailed information about our specialists’ background and specialties. If you are still not sure, try someone out. We are all flexible in our approach, so if what you are receiving is not what you are looking for, say something! None of us will be offended; we are here to serve YOU!
Q: How often should I receive massage?
A: This all depends on your activity level and whether you are treating an acute condition or are just looking for preventative maintenance.
Q: How or why does massage work?
A: Massage is a modality of health care that has been used for thousands of years. It’s an instinct for us to rub an area that hurts to create relief, but very few of us really know why it works. Here are just a few of the effects of massage therapy:
Q: Are there any side effects to massage?
As with any health care option there are some side effects. The most frequently reported side effect is soreness after the massage, sometimes into the next day. This can often be described like the soreness you get after a good workout. It is usually mild, but some people can get it worse than others. It usually depends on the massage modality used, but this is often followed by several days of relief! Other side effects may include: short period of dizziness or fogginess immediately after the massage, an acute awareness of pain or tension in areas of the body not treated during the massage, flushing or mild bruising in the tissue, and in very rare cases, an increase in pain of the dysfunctional area.
During the massage we use oils and/or creams to create better glide on the skin, in some cases these products can contain allergens like soy, nuts, or fragrances, although we try to only use low or no allergen products. Regardless, please let your therapist know ahead of time if you have any allergies or sensitivities.
If you have other questions that weren’t answered here, don’t hesitate to ask! You call call the office at 269-373-1000, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply ask in person before, during, or after your massage. View our full FAQ list here.
The safety and efficacy of the vaccines (which as of this blog are still free for all individuals eligible) we have available for COVID-19 continues to be proven again and again. Recent data has shown that even though a small percentage of vaccinated individuals can still contract and or spread COVID-19, the instances of hospitalizations and deaths have been drastically reduced. Quite literally up to 99% less in some states. So not only might it save your life, but it could save you gobs of money on potential hospital bills! If you have been hesitant to get vaccinated or have only been partially vaccinated, we want to do our part as a health care facility to make sure you have access to the best up to date, evidence based information. Starting in August we will be making COVID-19 vaccine info sheets available to our clients, and we encourage you to talk with your doctor about whether this is a good option for you.
If you decide to take that step, as our way of saying 'thanks' we will be running a special promotion for all vaccinated members and newly vaccinated cash paying clients.
We aren't the only company offering discounted services and goods for fighting against COVID. For example, Kindercare and the YMCA are both offering free childcare for those going to get a vaccine. Many companies like Walmart, Autozone, Kroger, Shipt and and several others are offering cash or cash equivalents to employees who get vaccinated. Forget Cryptocurrency, getting vaccinated could be the best investment you make in 2021! Be sure you first consult with your primary care physician whether getting the vaccine is medically the right decision for you, then go save some moo-la!!
All Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness specific offers listed here expire October 31, 2021.
As of July 1st 2021, KAW is updating our pricing structure in an effort to more effectively meet the high demand for quality therapeutic massage therapy. We are confident this upcoming change will continue to allow KAW to remain competitive with other massage therapists in the greater Kalamazoo area while also allowing us to deliver even better service and availability to our current clients.
While the plan was to make these changes to start 2021, we wanted to give everyone space to adjust to life as it was at the end of 2020. As we have pushed halfway through 2021, life appears to be getting back towards normal, and we are needing to hire more therapists to open up the schedule for the demand we are getting. Offering better rates for incoming therapists as well as hourly staff has become crucial, in the ultra-limited availability of high quality staff. We are thankful for your continued understanding as we work diligently to meet the demand and adjust to the needs of our staff! If you know any licensed massage therapists looking for consistent work in a highly positive and supportive team oriented environment, send them our way!
The changes are as follows:
By now you’ve likely heard the news that both the CDC and the state of Michigan will no longer require individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings either outdoors or indoors, and by July 1st no one will be required to wear masks at all. We are eager to celebrate this huge step forward, but we also want to be cautious because the pandemic is certainly not over, and while many of our clientele and our staff have been fully vaccinated, there are those who have not yet been able to for various reasons.
To that end, we have decided that masks will be optional during massage if both the client and the therapist have been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means they have received the last in their series of vaccinations and allowed two weeks time or more to pass. Since there may be other clients or staff in the lobby who have not yet been vaccinated, clients will still be required to wear masks until they are in treatment rooms.
If you would like the option to remove your mask during your massage with therapists who are fully vaccinated, please bring in your original vaccination card so we can add a copy of it to your file. Additionally, if you do not have the card you can also sign an affidavit confirming your vaccination date and location and authorizing us to contact the provider to confirm your vaccination status.
Please note: these changes are 100% OPTIONAL. Anyone who does not want to provide vaccination verification may still continue to wear a mask just as before. Anyone who is not comfortable being unmasked or having their therapist unmasked may continue to wear a face covering and/or request their therapist wear one, as well. This is a complicated and nuanced situation, and we respect everyone’s right to make their own choices while also taking very seriously the potential risks to our unvaccinated employees and clients. We ask that you do the same!
We will continue to call clients ahead of time to go through a brief screening, and go over these details. As always, we do require that you reschedule your appointment if you are feeling ill or exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus. Thank you for your continued support, and...
UPDATE: As of 8/1/2021 we highly recommend everyone wear masks while in our facilities to help reduce the spread of the Delta Variant.
By: Guest Blogger Kelly Jones LMT, MOTR
Ever feel like those hard, painful knots in your muscles seem to stick around no matter how much stretching, foam rolling, or digging you do? This is where vibration and percussion therapy can make all the difference. Not only is this a great way to help your massage therapist hone in on stubborn muscle issues, it’s also a super effective at-home recovery tool. Did I mention vibration and percussion therapy feels great, too? Many clients tell me after adding the Hypervolt onto their massage session that it's the most relaxed they can remember feeling.
One of the reasons this therapy is so effective is due to specialized receptor cells in the body that monitor for changes in the muscle tissue called proprioceptors. Proprioceptors communicate with the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and protect our bodies by regulating stretch or contraction during movement (like when busting a move on the dance floor) or application of force (bench pressing your toddler). Proprioceptors sense changes such as pressure, temperature, or tension and are located throughout muscles, joints, and tendons. One specific type of proprioceptor called the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) specializes in preventing tension induced injuries. GTOs operate a protective feedback mechanism
known as the Golgi tendon reflex, which creates an inhibiting response (shut it down!) that signals muscle tissue to release tension, making the muscle easier to stretch and to apply other massage modalities to it.
During vibration and percussion therapy, your massage therapist may use a hand-held percussive device on a localized area to induce deep release and relaxation within the muscle tissues. The tool we use for this at KAW is the Hypervolt, a hand held percussive therapy device made by Hyperice. One of my favorite ways to use the Hypervolt is by targeting muscles which feel “congested” or locked up with tension. When the vibrations are transmitted to your body they cause an inhibition reflex which signals muscle to contract and then relax. The Hypervolt has three different speed settings and multiple attachments to customize client comfort and maximize vibration therapy benefits depending on where it's applied to the body.
By using the Hypervolt as an adjunct to manual massage therapy, your therapist can better target muscle tension and discomfort to get you more effective results. Personally, I have found that using the Hypervolt to “warm up” muscles allows me to engage in deeper and more intense tissue modalities much sooner than by relying on using my hands alone. If you haven’t already added the Hypervolt to your massage, give it a go next time you come in and see for yourself! You might even want to consider purchasing one to use at home. Among the benefits of vibration and percussion therapy is faster post workout/event recovery time,
decreased generalized pain or stiffness, and improved range of motion.
We have both the standard Hypervolt and smaller, travel size Hypervolt GO on sale this month (May 2021) at KAW in addition to the Hyperice Venom, a wearable heat and vibration treatment device for the low back. Any of our awesome KAW staff is more than happy to help familiarize you with these tools and offer suggestions or demonstrations to help you get the most out of them. Just ask!
Currently our Hyperice products are available for purchase in-store only due to restrictions per our merchant agreement. If you would like to purchase any of our Hyperice products please call 269-373-1000 for pricing and availability!
How to use the Hypervolt: at home -YouTube Tutorial
By guest blogger: Makenzie Musgrove
The cold has always been something for which we have been conditioned to prepare. Living in Michigan means we are no strangers to these plunging temperatures, but still the cold has often been something most people dread, just like any other ‘bad’ weather. However, despite our quarrels with the cold, being exposed to frigid environments can and will do some amazing things for our bodies. By learning to use the cold, and overcoming the mental conditioning that cold is bad, we are able to change our relationship with cold temperatures. It has been proven that exposure to certain lower temperatures may actually increase productivity in our cardiovascular and endocrine systems (which directly influence our hormone levels), as well as help facilitate faster recovery following intense workouts. If we can enact change in our behaviors and mentality about the cold, we can directly improve our overall health and well-being.
If you have ever jumped into a cold pool before, you most likely know that deep gasp of air you take when you touch the cold water. This is called a cold water gasp, or a gasp reflex and only happens when skin comes in contact with cold water (under 70 degrees Fahrenheit). This initial shock causes the body to send signals to the brain indicating that you are submerged in water. It is a direct autonomic survival response making sure your body has enough air and energy to save it from drowning. These signals improve alertness, mental clarity and energy levels. Endorphins are also released which are also known as ‘feel good hormones’. In clinical trials it has been shown that taking a cold shower, even for just a few minutes a week, can help alleviate depressive symptoms as a result of this endorphin release. The skin has a high
concentration of cold receptors which stimulate the peripheral nerve endings in the brain which create anti-depressive effects. Because of this short adrenaline and endorphin burst, taking cold showers can even help you sleep better at night.
Not only can cold exposure improve your nervous system, it can improve your physicality, as well. The use of cold therapies with athletes for muscle recovery has become a lot more prevalent over the past few years. Studies have shown that the use of cold therapy, such as ice baths, cryotherapy chambers, and even just cold showers often reduce a lot of negative side effects of post physical performance. The cold can act as a mild analgesic (pain reducer) on muscles post workout. The cold reduces inflammation and improves the cardiovascular system within your muscles, both of which are directly related to the rate of muscle recovery. The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies conducted a study in 2019 which showed that over time those who used cold therapy as part of their exercise recovery program increased their physical performance exponentially faster than those in the control who were not exposed to intentional cold therapy. Another study published in The Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training details cold’s effect on delayed onset muscle soreness. Cold exposure after an intense workout helps ease the perceived pain from that delayed onset muscle soreness, which is muscle pain you feel after working out. The feeling usually occurs 24-48 hours post workout and with cold treatment the perceived pain decreased by over half.
Overall, by pushing ourselves to overcome our mental aversion to cold and by embracing the cold as something that can help heal not only your body, but your mind as well, you can make a positive impact on your overall well being. The few things mentioned here only scratch the surface of what the cold can do for you. So next time you take a shower (if you are brave enough to try), set a timer for a minute, count to three, turn the temperature gauge as cold as it will go and focus on slow, deep, and full breathing. Pay attention to how you feel right after that shower and throughout your day. Embrace the cold!
Hof, W. (2020). The Wim Hof method: Activate your full human potential. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Doeringer, J. R., Colas, M., Peacock, C., Gatens, D. R. 2018. The effects of postexercise cooling on muscle performance and soreness perception. International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training, 23(2), 73-76.
Didehdar, D., Sobhani, S. 2019. The effect of cold-water immersion on physical performance, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 23(2), 258-26
By guest blogger: Adam Brown
You may have seen this phrase or a catchy meme or song to the same effect circling around the interwebs lately; "the pandemic isn't over just because you're over it!" I actually heard it for the first time months ago. The fact is, as we approach the one year mark of this unprecedented worldwide pandemic, "pandemic fatigue" is all too real. But it seems like things are starting to get back to normal, right? Schools that have been only virtual or part time in person all year are preparing to go back to full time face to face instruction (many without the means to vaccinate their teachers, unfortunately). Thousands of people recently descended on the state capital to demand high school sports be allowed to resume. We're finally starting to see headlines of COVID numbers decreasing in Michigan. No matter where you stand ideologically in regards to lockdowns, business restrictions, vaccines, and mask mandates; I think we can all agree we are sick and tired of COVID! Sadly, SARS-CoV-2 doesn't care too much for our feelings on the matter, and even though it seems like things are starting to get back to normal, it's likely going to be a long road till we truly see the end of this pandemic.
On February 1st dine-in services at restaurants have been resumed at limited capacity, but this is a good time to remember: just because you can, does that mean you should? The other day while picking up take-out brunch from one of my local favorites, Crow's Nest, one of the servers I know personally brought my order out to the curbside for me and said that she had mixed feelings about the dining room reopening. Yes, the restaurant industry desperately needs the business, but the risk is still very real, and who knows how things will change if people start filling local bars and restaurants to capacity. Take-out is still a great option and a good way to support your favorite local restaurants without putting any of the staff and other patrons at risk. Some restaurants have also gotten very innovative with ways to stay warm while eating outdoors this winter! If you must dine-in, please be respectful of the situation, don't linger long at your table after your meal, keep you mask on until you are eating and put it back on when you are done, and for goodness' sake, TIP YOUR SERVERS GENEROUSLY!!!
Here at KAW we are still continuing to offer our services to the community in the safest way possible. We are standing by the importance and effectiveness of PPE, and per recent public health guidelines we have even purchased new triple layered, reusable cloth masks for therapists to wear while working. We're also in line (metaphorically speaking) to get our vaccines as soon as possible, and we encourage you to do the same! You can continue help us stay safe by continuing to be patient, considerate, and honest with our staff when going through your pre-screening questionnaire; rescheduling your massage for a later date if you've recently gathered indoors with a group of ten or more people or if you're feeling even the slightest bit under the weather; and wearing your mask the entire time you're in the building (bonus points for multi-layered masks!). Even if you have already been vaccinated or had COVID and recovered from it, wearing a mask is still important since the data is not clear yet as to whether or not you can still spread the virus to others. A vaccine is to protect you, the mask is to protect others.
The reality is, even after enough people have been vaccinated for our country to reach herd immunity status, there may still be the need to wear masks and take extra precautions long in the future. Don't lose hope, though. We will find our equilibrium, and if we support each other and follow the lead of our nation's health officials, we will thrive once again. Thank you again for your continued support of our staff and our business. Here's to what we can all do together to Be Better!
Today's guest blogger is Jill Winfield. You may have seen Jill at the front desk of the KAW Sports Massage Center or in the therapy room in the past year. Jill holds a Bachelors of Science from Western Michigan University with the majority of her studies focused in the undergraduate Athletic Training Program. This included classes in various therapeutic modalities, therapeutic exercise, strength and conditioning, sports physiology, sports nutrition, functional anatomy, and evaluation skills. Jill was trained in Massage Therapy at the Institute for Massage Therapy at KCHA, where many of the KAW staff also went to school.
Often times, especially in a sports massage setting, you may expect your massage therapist to use deep pressure or aggressive stretching in order to help tight muscles relax. However, this isn’t always necessary, and can potentially do more harm than good in some cases. Certain light touch therapies like MFR (Myofascial Release), may actually be more effective than deep pressure in allowing your body to relax and restore balance. Here are four common light touch modalities and a brief description of them:
-MFR/Myofascial Release: A lighter touch or more intense touch can be used with these techniques. This allows the therapist to engage the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue which surrounds muscles and tendons that sometimes can cause referred pain when adhesion occurs. MFR encourages these restrictions to loosen up and let go. This therapy can be done fully clothed or undressed (to your level of comfort) as “usual”. This can be a great option for those who are not comfortable being in a state of undress around another person.
-CST/ Craniosacral Therapy: The lightest touch therapy, this modality works to restore balance in your central nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. CST can help bones and tissues move back into their proper place by facilitating a deep sense of relaxation allowing the body to find its own equilibrium. CST can be done fully clothed or undressed (to your level of comfort) as “usual”. Another great option for those who are not comfortable being in a state of undress in a therapeutic setting. Read more about CST here!
-Lymphatic Drainage: Swelling can be caused by lymph fluid building up in various areas, especially around joints and in the lower extremities. Lymph filters waste products out of your circulatory system in addition to many of its other functions. This system can become overwhelmed and not work as efficiently when an injury occurs or from chronic over-training. This technique gently facilitates the movement of lymphatic fluid to be recirculated throughout the body and requires a lighter touch to be most effective. It is also one of the only massage modalities not contraindicated within the first 24 hours post injury. Read more here!
-Swedish/Full Body Relaxation: It is one of the foundational styles of western massage and is taught to massage students in accredited programs across the US. It gives you that freshly massaged, relaxed feeling. Helps with many overall health concerns. This can be done with a light touch, or a “heavier” touch, typically partially to fully undressed with modest draping and some sort of lubrication on the skin. There are less contraindications for this style of massage than some of the other light and deep touch styles.
So why should you care about lighter touch modalities if you are an active person with lots of muscle tension and/or an injury? Being “sneaky” with a softer approach can get to points of tension and adhesion in the body without turning on or activating pain receptors that cause guarding or additional tension. If your body is used to fighting against pressure from the nature of your sport or strenuous lifestyle, it may also fight against pressure used during a massage making it feel like you need more and more pressure to find any relief, which may even lead to damaging soft tissue. Light touch techniques start working with your body to facilitate healing without having to “push through” a lot of pain to get the relaxation and therapeutic effect you are looking for. Every technique and modality has a place in your therapist’s toolbox. Check in with your LMT to see which light touch techniques may work best for you!
You may have, by now, heard that Gov. Whitmer's executive order powers have been repealed by the supreme court. I am sure some of you may not care or some of you may be excited. Some of you may be scared or frustrated. Many of you may be wondering what that means for your massages at KAW. Long story short, is that our operations will not change. We will continue to require PPE for both staff and clients. We will continue to use limited capacity and staggered scheduling to reduce the number of clients in the office. We will still have extra time between clients for disinfecting. This does certainly mean a reduction in income for KAW and our staff. We are willing to put forth the sacrifice if it means we can maybe save lives and find a new normal a little bit sooner.
What will likely change, is the potential for clients to challenge our decisions as a company. Our standards were set in place to protect ourselves and our community, not just because we were legally required to do so. For now, the EOs will still be enforceable through September 23rd, and I am sure the MI government will be working diligently to figure out how to fight this repeal or put other measures in place to balance public and economic safety. Additionally, this repeal gives local governments more power to create their own legislation. So, it is very possible Kalamazoo county may put a mask, social distance or reduced capacity order in place anyway, since we have spiked by over 100 cases per million more than we were a month ago, thanks largely to schools reopening. Oakland county has already put up a county wide mask mandate for anywhere outside your home.
No matter your point of view on whether the Governor had the power to protect the public based on a panel of highly educated experts' advice or not, we now have to navigate more change and must stay steadfast in our decisions as a company about what makes sense for us. In the end, it is our duty as ambassadors of local public health to set a standard, regardless of what the government says. Please be respectful of our policies we have put in place, and we will continue to provide the most epic wellness care we can!
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
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