What Price Beauty? Research Shows High Heels Compromise Muscle Efficiency

From Massage Magazine Feb 8, 2012

Women who wear high heels on a regular basis can attest to the pain that can come with wearing this type of shoe. But do high heels cause actual damage or injury?

New research indicates long-term wearing of high heels can contribute to both compromised muscle efficiency and strain injuries.

The study examined the effects of habitual high heel use on the neuromechanical behavior of triceps surae muscles during walking.

“Human movement requires a constant, finely-tuned interaction between muscular and tendinous tissues, so changes in the properties of either tissue could have important functional consequences,” the investigators wrote. “One condition that alters the functional demands placed on lower limb muscle-tendon units is the use of high-heeled shoes, which force the foot into a plantarflexed position.

“Long-term [high heel] use has been found to shorten medial gastrocnemius muscle fascicles and increase Achilles tendon stiffness, but the consequences of these changes for locomotor muscle-tendon function are unknown,” the investigators wrote.

The study population consisted of nine habitual high heel wearers who had worn shoes with a minimum heel height of 5cm at least 40 hours per week for a minimum of two years, and 10 control participants who habitually wore heels for less than 10 hours per week.

Participants walked at a self-selected speed over level ground while ground reaction forces, ankle and knee joint kinematics, lower limb muscle activity and gastrocnemius fascicle length data were acquired, according to the research.

“In long-term [high heel] wearers, walking in [high heels] resulted in substantial increases in muscle fascicle strains and muscle activation during the stance phase compared to barefoot walking,” the investigators wrote. “The results suggest that long-term high heel use may compromise muscle efficiency in walking, and are consistent with reports that [high heel] wearers often experience discomfort and muscle fatigue.

“Long-term [high heel] use may also increase the risk of strain injuries.”

The research was conducted by investigators with the Neuromuscular Research Centre, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Finland; and the Musculoskeletal Research Program, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, in Queensland, Australia. It was published in January in the Journal of Applied Science.

Editor’s note: Learn more about the effects of high heels in “Gaga Over Heels: Myoskeletal Alignment,” a feature article by Erik Dalton that ran in the September 2011 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.

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Why Am I Sore? Understanding Massage as the Body’s Workout

Why Am I Sore?
Understanding Massage as the Body’s Workout
By Shirley Vanderbilt
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Fall 2002.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

You’ve just had a wonderful massage, and you go home feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. But the next morning, you wake up with twinges of muscle soreness, maybe some fatigue, and you just don’t feel yourself. What happened? Chances are it’s the massage, and it’s perfectly OK.

Keith Grant, head of the Sports and Deep Tissue Massage Department at McKinnon Institute in Oakland, Calif., says, “It’s very much like doing a workout. If the muscles aren’t used to it, they often respond with some soreness.” Grant notes this should last for no more than a day or two. If it lasts longer, the massage may have been too intense, and the therapist should adjust for this in the next session. However, just as with exercise, when your body adjusts to having this type of workout, your physical response will also be less intense.

A professional massage is more than an ordinary backrub. Your massage therapist can find all the kinks that have built up from daily stress and too little or too much exercise. The whole point of a therapeutic massage is to release that tension, work out the kinks and help your body relax so it can function at an optimal level. All of this work stretches muscles, pushes blood into them and gets things working again.

There are several theories, in addition to muscle function, as to why people sometimes experience after-effects from massage. Grant points to one theory being closely examined by experts. Neurological sensitivity, or “sensitization,” looks at the “whole response of what’s going on in a person.” As Grant explains, massage provides a significant amount of input to the central nervous system and the body responds to that increased information. Pain and other occasional after-effects may be the result of a system that has received more information than it can handle at that particular time. And because the amount of sensory input we receive during any day or week is always fluctuating, sometimes we may be overloaded and other times not. It depends on the total stress (emotional, spiritual and physical) being experienced by the body at that moment.

So what can you do to minimize sometimes painful side effects? It’s important to communicate with your massage therapist regarding your expectations, as well as your current state of health. Your therapist can then tailor the massage to your personal needs and desires, and make adjustments in intensity or technique as the session proceeds. “I’d look at what’s being done,” says Grant. In some cases, a shorter or more soothing session may be more appropriate. In others, the therapist may need to change the kind of technique used. Much of this can be judged by how the person is feeling and responding during the massage.

Understand that your body is an organism made up of complex systems that react to a constantly changing influx of external factors. Maintain good health practices and keep your mind free of negative clutter. Drink plenty of water immediately following your treatment, and continue to do so for the next day or two. This will rehydrate your tissues and ease the effects. Take it easy after your massage. Go home, relax and just allow your body to find its balance naturally. Like exercise, make bodywork a habitual practice for good health. And if you wake up the next morning a little sore, it’s probably because you had a really good massage.

Shirley Vanderbilt is a staff writer for Body Sense.

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Summer special

Yes, the rain will end some day…maybe…in the meantime I am counting on summer being here soon! So I am offering a summer special…purchase 6 sessions at full price and receive 1/2 hour free to add on to any session!

Summer schedule: Monday, Weds, Thurs by appointment only!

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Time to vote!!


Nomination Period:
Vote Period:
Monday, Apr 25, 12:00 AM – Sunday, May 1, 12:00 AM Sunday, May 1, 12:01 AM – Sunday, May 15, 12:00 AM

Welcome to 2011 BEST OF THE BEST Reader’s Choice

To nominate your favorite Best of the Best entries, select “register” for your new account. After creating your new account, please log in and select “Nominate Business”. If you already have your new account established, simply log-in and select “Nominate Business”. In order for a business to be eligible for a nomination, the business must have an address in Medina County.

To vote for your favorite Best of the Best entries, select “register” for your new account. After creating your new account, please log in and select “VOTE”.  If you already have your new account established, simply log-in and select “VOTE”.

Round One Voting – One log-in session per per valid email address from May 1st to May 15th. You can vote for as many businesses as you want per log-in session, so make sure you vote for all businesses during that one log-in session.
Round 2 Voting: One log-in session per per valid email address from June 1st to June 30th. You can vote for as many businesses as you want per log-in session, so make sure you vote for all businesses during that one log-in session.

Official results and winners will be announced at The Medina County Fair.

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Therapeutic Communication Asking for What You Want is Key to a Great Massage

By Mary Kathleen Rose

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, March/April 2010. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Receiving a massage is a time to rest and rejuvenate as you experience the deeply nourishing effects of skillful touch. As your muscles relax and your mind unwinds, do you ever wonder how to talk with your massage therapist or bodyworker? Here are some guidelines about what to expect regarding verbal communication before, during, and after a session.

Before The Session
Before beginning the hands-on session, you will usually fill out a client intake form with contact information, medical history, and your reasons for receiving massage. Your therapist will ask you, “Is there anything I need to be aware of?” Share any relevant information in order to ensure that you receive a session that is appropriate and safe for you. For example, if you have had recent surgery or an injury, it is important that the therapist know, in order to avoid causing further injury or discomfort. Your practitioner should also ask, “How can I help you?” This is your opportunity to tell your therapist what you need and to state your preferences for the kind of bodywork you like, and the parts of your body most needing attention. You can say what kind of techniques or degree of pressure you like. You can state your intention: “I need overall relaxation,” or “My back is in a lot of pain. Can you focus on that?”

During The Session
As you receive the hands-on work of the session, your therapist will ask, “How is the pressure I am using?” Give your honest feedback. After all, the therapist wants to accommodate your needs and preferences. Do not hesitate to speak up if anything is uncomfortable to you. Specify if you want more or less pressure, more or less of a particular technique, or if you want specific attention to an area of your body.

A massage is a time to relax, so you can expect that your therapist will be quiet and attentive. If you find that he or she is more talkative than you like, it is OK to say, “I’d just like to enjoy silence during my session.” On the other hand, if you like to talk, and it is helpful for you to talk–either about what you are experiencing in your body, or simply as a way of letting go of the stress of the day–that is also OK.

What is most important to remember is that this is your time to be nurtured. It is appropriate that the practitioner respond to your preferences. It is not a time for the therapist to carry on a personal conversation or talk in any way that detracts from your experience.

After The Session
Following the session, the therapist may ask, “How do you feel now?” or ask about a specific issue that was addressed in the session. Share anything that occurs to you that might be useful feedback. For example, you might say: “I feel great. Just what I needed!” or “I loved that work on my feet. Maybe next time, you could spend more time with that.” This brings closure to the session and also gives an idea about what you might expect in a future visit.

It is important to know that bodyworkers provide their services based on their specific training. It is not appropriate for massage therapists to answer medical questions that are beyond the range of their knowledge and/or legal scope of practice. The value of therapeutic massage and bodywork lies in skillful application of appropriate technique, as well as the sense of ease that is created by quality, mutual communication.

Mary Kathleen Rose, BA, CMT, is a massage therapist and wellness educator, and the author of the textbook Comfort Touch: Massage for the Elderly and the Ill (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009). www.comforttouch.com.

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Research Exclusive: Massage Boosts Mood, Immune Function and Relaxation

From the MASSAGE Magazine department, Research Reports, in the December 2008 issue. Article summary: Massage on healthy adults provided significant improvements in mood, immune function and serum cholesterol levels, according to recent research.

Massage on healthy adults provided significant improvements in mood, immune function and serum cholesterol levels, according to recent research.

“The Effects of Massage Therapy on Immune, Hematological and Psychological State of Adult Subjects” involved 32 subjects, ranging in age from 18 to 62. Participants each received one 25-minute, full-body massage from a skilled massage therapist. Several participants were excluded due to their use of prescription medications for hypertension and cholesterol, which may have affected the outcome of the study. Subjects who smoked were also excluded for similar reasons.

The massage provided was based on Amma, a Chinese massage technique combining pressure, friction and touch with deep-tissue bodywork. Each massage focused on the whole body and was given while subjects were fully clothed. The bodywork occurred in a specific order, starting with head and neck, then moving to the shoulders, back and hips, upper limbs and lower limbs. Techniques included effleurage, kneading with whole hands and kneading with thumbs along muscle. Subjects were asked to let the massage therapist know the most comfortable level of pressure.

Measurements were taken before and after each massage session. Measures included the State-Trait

Anxiety Inventory (STAI), which measured a subject’s current (state) and long-standing (trait) levels of anxiety. Blood and saliva samples were also taken in order to analyze cell levels associated with stress and immune function, as well as serum cholesterol.

Results of the study compared baseline measures to post-massage measures, and there were significant improvement in all factors. Following the massage session, both state and trait anxiety levels decreased significantly; serum cholesterol levels were lowered; and the levels of cells indicating stress decreased. Blood tests showed significantly improved immune function as well.

“It was found in the present study that a 25-minute massage is capable of inducing psychological relaxation, in terms of reducing anxiety,” said the study’s authors. “Massage therapy also modulates immune function, induces hemodilution and decreases serum cholesterol. These findings suggest the possible usefulness of massage therapy as a stress management technique and for health promotion in modern society.”

Authors: Hiroko Kuriyama, Satoko Watanabe, Toshiaki Tadai, Kenji Fukui, Isao Shirahata and Jiro Imanishi.

Source: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Psychiatry, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine; Graduate School of Science for Human Services, Ritsumeikan University; Kenkokan Massage and Acupuncture Clinic. Originally published in the Japanese Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2008) 2(1): 59-65.

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April “NO FOOL” Special

Purchase 6 sessions for $210+tax. (That is $35 per session)

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Massage and Sleep

Check out this great article on the benefits of massage!

Massage: Your Key to Health
Improve Sleep, Immunity, Digestion, and Quality of Life


By Laurie Chance Smith

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, January/February 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Therapeutic touch is an instinctive and eloquent form of communication that has been molded into a healing art. Larry Costa, author of Massage: Mind and Body, writes that massage has many “physical and mental benefits, including … relieving muscle soreness, increasing flexibility, easing chronic pain, reducing tension headaches, boosting the immune system, promoting restful sleep, and improving concentration.” Massage positively affects the body’s circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. By encouraging blood flow through the veins, massage benefits the entire body. The calming effects of massage on the nervous system often produce a sense of serenity and well-being. Regular massage also stimulates the lymphatic system, which enhances the function of the immune system.

From easing arthritis and asthma to improving digestion, the benefits of massage therapy run the gamut. Massage helps relieve daily stressors and eases recovery from many serious illnesses. In The Complete Book of Relaxation Techniques, Jenny Sutcliffe points out that massage can relieve pain by stimulating the production of endorphins–the body’s own painkillers–and, by increasing the sensory input to the brain, thereby blocking out the pain messages.

The positive physiological and psychological effects of massage were demonstrated in a recent study of patients undergoing care for cancer. When given massage, study participants at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston exhibited increased relaxation, better sleep, and improved immune function, along with relief from fatigue, pain, anxiety, and nausea.

In Ayurvedic Herbal Massage, author Gita Ramesh says regular massages can “relieve stress and help to promote a long and healthy life.” In the Indian healing system of ayurveda, massage is considered a form of whole body exercise that increases stamina and energy, while simultaneously delivering an inexpressible quality of stillness and joy–a time to be present. Massage realigns the entire body, promotes deeper and more natural breathing patterns, and helps restore individual resources of vital energy. The moments spent in massage are an opportunity to experience oneself as completely accepted.

Regular massage is a gift to yourself. Through the power of structured, healing touch, massage helps the body run smoothly, like keeping a musical instrument in perfect tune. Massage rejuvenates the body from the outside in, with side benefits that include improved complexion, better posture, and a relaxed disposition on life.

Laurie Chance Smith is a Texas-based writer and photographer who works for national and international markets on a plethora of topics. She can be reached at lauriechancesmith@yahoo.com.

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Chronic Pain

Some People are More Prone than Others to Chronic Pain

Chronic pain brings many clients to massage therapy. New research shows that some people are more prone than other to developing chronic widespread pain following a traumatic event.

The new research, published in Arthritis Care & Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Rheumatology, found that the onset of chronic pain was more often reported following a traffic accident than from other physically traumatic triggers, and is more common among people who had poor health or psychological issues prior to the event.

The American College of Rheumatology defines chronic widespread pain as the presence of pain above and below the waist, or on both the left and right sides of the body, for three months or longer, according to a press release from Wiley-Blackwell, which publishes the journal the research is published in.

Medical literature suggests that this type of pain increases with age, is more common in women than men, and is a primary characteristic of fibromyalgia—one of the most common reasons for rheumatology consultations worldwide, the press release noted.

Related articles:

• Chronic Stress May Cause Chronic Pain

Massage and Other CAM Therapies Reduce Pain in Hospital Patients



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Spring Shopping Extravaganza a HUGE success!!

Thanks to all who joined me at the Spring Shopping Extravaganza. I had a wonderful time giving chair massage and meeting all kinds of new people!

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