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Exercise or Rest?

It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise and sometimes it feels like you’re constantly pushing yourself.  I know for me, it’s hard to tell whether I’m justifiably tired or just don’t want to workout. Here are a few tips to help you tell the difference.

If you feel like you’re coming down with a cold, don’t stop moving unless you have a fever.  You might want to slow down the pace of your workout though.  Stretching the backs of your legs are especially helpful at moving phlegm.

If your last workout left you feeling sore, don’t stop unless the pain came on suddenly. “Sharp pain can be a sign that you sprained or twisted something,” says W .Ben Kibler, M.D., medical director of the Leington Clinic Orthopedics-Sports Medicine Center in Kentucky.  Your sore muscles may actually feel better after gentle movement.

If you’re tired, look back on your day and see if you were exerting yourself more than usual.  Were you shovelling earlier, doing extra chores, did your day involve extra walking or just being on your feet more?  If this is the case, you may not need the workout.  If not, try five minutes of light exercise such as walking on a treadmill.  If you don’t feel more fatigued after that, then push yourself a little bit more.


Self Massage

Mary Atkinson in A Practical Guide to Self-Massage says, “A simple five-minute hand-and-foot massage can lower blood pressure and heart rate and reduce feelings of panic.” Atkinson adds that gentle strokes with the fingertips across the forehead can help you relax. If you’d like to increase those benefits, use therapeutic grade essential oils for your massages. Rubbing oils into your feet is especially beneficial since your pores are larger there and they absorb the oils easily, getting them into your system faster.

Practicing massage on yourself daily helps your increase awareness of life stressors in between your professional massages. Remember that whether you receive a professional massage or a self-massage, savor those moments when you can focus solely on yourself.


Missed your flu shot? Book a massage.

New research in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine finds that a deep tissue massage significantly increases levels of immune-boosting blood cells, called lymphocytes, while also decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Even better, these findings are the result of a single session—so you don’t have to feel guilty about it.  If you want even more flu protection, schedule an essential oil body wrap with the Thieves blend of cloves, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemon, and rosemary.  Massage cupping stimulates your lymphatic system, making delivery of the lymphocytes even more efficient. An added bonus is that it prepares your skin to receive these healing oils and gets them working faster.  You are getting so many benefits in one session, you just might feel guilty about enjoying it so much!

Are you looking for more health in the new year, preferably if its easy and fun?  Try a gorgeous starter kit to the world of essential oils with ten oils and blends, including Thieves, plus a FREE diffuser, All for $150.  Order at www.Lesley.Vibrant Scents.com.  Please call or email with any questions or schedule a quick visit to experience the oils for yourself.


Your Body May Be Trying to Tell You Something

In our day-to-day lives, we often find ourselves moving or sitting in ways that can cause pain and irritation in our muscles. Massage not only helps relieve that discomfort, it also increases body-mind awareness going forward. The results? Your mood improves and stress decreases. You may sleep better, eat better, and feel better inside and out. After your next massage, notice your body awareness, and consider the long-term effects on your well-being.

Not able to come in for massage?  Try some wonderful smelling home-care with essential oils.  Find out more at www.Lesley.VibrantScents.com   They are currently offering a free diffuser when you sign up for the premium starter kit of ten essential oils plus samples for $150.


Increase Massage Benefits with Regular Visits

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch ranging from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of our modern lifestyles.  The medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating massage therapy to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.  Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more.  Receiving regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for massage at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health.  Remember, just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it’s any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and I’ll work with you to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.


Massage May Relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue

Emory University researchers plan to study if massage therapy can help alleviate cancer-related fatigue in cancer survivors.  A clinical trial involving up to 72 breast cancer survivors is scheduled to begin this month and run through April 2015. Dr. Mark H. Rapaport, chair of Emory’s Department of Psychiatry, will lead the study, according to a posting on ClinicalTrials.gov.

“With approximately 12 million cancer survivors today in the United States alone, increased attention is being given to quality of life after cancer treatment,” says Rappaprt. “Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most prevalent and debilitating symptoms experienced by people with cancer. It can persist for months or years after cancer therapy is completed and has a negative impact on all areas of function.”

“Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing alternative therapies and has a high rate of acceptance for symptom management among cancer patients.” Rapaport confirmed the study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“It is thought that fatigue may be caused by a persistent elevation of inflammatory cytokines (proteins most commonly elicited from white blood cells) and our preliminary data in healthy volunteers suggest that our massage intervention may decrease the production of these proteins and increase production of anti-inflammatory proteins. It would be very valuable to be able to offer our cancer-surviving patients a treatment to help their problems with overwhelming fatigue.”


Another Health Benefit of Deep Breathing

You’ve heard me talk about slow, deep breathing to help calm you down.  It’s an easy, no-cost tool that you can use anywhere, anytime to relieve anxiety, calm your internal thoughts, and relax your entire body.  It turns out, it can even prolong your life.

Seth Goldbarg, MD, an electrophysiologist at New York Hospital suggests deep breathing when you’re exposed to loud noises such as trucks during a commute or even too many loud cell phone rings.  “Any noise that causes stress leads to a surge in sympathetic nervous system activity,” he says.  “This spikes hear t rate and constricts blood vessels.”  Breathing deeply when you’re in a noisy place eases the pressure on your heart and invokes a relaxation response.

To get the most benefits of deep breathing, count slowly to ten each time you breathe in.  Exhale slowly and deliberately as if you were releasing every last bit of air from your lungs.  Repeat at least twice, but more is better in this case.  If you’re stuck with the noise for awhile, Dr. Goldbarg suggests using white noise or even music to tune it out. If you have access to Pandora radio, I recommend the artist Deuter to start your station.  It’s one of my favorites in the massage room.


Massage Helps Joint Pain

As the weather starts to change from blazing hot to blistering cold, you may notice that your joints and muscles have become inflamed with pain. Blame the cold weather! Seriously, cold weather not only causes your joints to swell and become stiff, but your pain receptors are also more sensitive.

Massage is an extremely beneficial tool in relieving joint pain, especially due to cold weather, because it increases circulation while relieving the pain. Treat your joint pain today.


The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness and good health seem to go together. But according to a new study, not all forms of happiness are created equal. Researchers have long known that happier people experience less depression and stress, stronger immune systems, lower heart rates, and longer lives. But are all forms of happiness equally good for your health? If you feel elation because the Giants win the World Series, does that produce the same health benefits as the satisfaction that comes from helping a friend in need?

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the answer is no. Instead, happiness that comes from doing good or fulfilling your life purpose may be better for you than happiness that comes from self-gratification or pleasure seeking. When it comes to your health, it seems, not all forms of happiness are created equal. Apparently our bodies are designed to differentiate between more virtuous—and less-self-serving—happiness, even if we don’t necessarily recognize the differences ourselves.

This could explain the connection found in prior studies between helping others and good health. Research has shown that acting in generous ways lights up areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, and can lead to positive health outcomes like lower stress and better cardiovascular health. In addition, several studies have found that volunteering increases longevity in older adults, especially if that volunteerism is motivated by altruism and not personal gain.

“Finding happiness in a sense of purpose or meaning does not need to be grand or grandiose,” says Fredrickson, one of the authors of the study. “Simply making an effort to connect with others with empathy and compassion could make this shift in your day.”


Being Ticklish Can Mask Underlying Tension

You may not realize it, but being ticklish in certain areas of your body may hide the fact that you have muscle tension there.  It’s a protective response.  While you feel relaxed and at ease, your brain is on alert, continually monitoring what’s going on all over your body.  It’s even working while you’re asleep.

If you’re touched in a ticklish area, your nervous system may overreact since the muscle tension is already high.  You respond with protective movements such as flinching, jumping, wiggling, and other ways to move away from the perceived threat.

Paradoxically, ticklish areas are some of the hardest areas to massage even though they desperately need them.  Deep breathing, meditation, and awareness of the tickle response can help you overcome the difficulty of receiving massage.