Saturday, October 10, 2015
By: Karyl Taylor LMT
Whenever I go to write a blog or an article, I tend to either have troubles with the opening or closing sentence. SO I guess I’ll just dive right into this one. My name is Karyl Taylor, and well, I’m sure you could have already guessed it, I am a massage therapist. Now I feel like everyone has that heartwarming story of how they always wanted to be a massage therapist or how they knew they would always end up helping people in pain, but that’s not me. In fact, massage school ended up being my back up plan. I had big dreams of owning and running a successful coffee stand or coffee shop. Along with my big dreams came the reality of “what if it doesn’t work out?” Then, there it was. A radio commercial for becoming a massage therapist. My first thought was, “well that seems easy enough.” Oh was I so wrong yet so right at the same time. Going back to school in general was hard for me. When I was younger, school wasn’t really “my thing”. Getting signed up and ready seemed like a breeze, despite how nervous I was to go back to school. Everything just fell magically into place.
Ok, I know now I’m starting to get a little mushy with this, but it’s true. It was quite literally like it was supposed to happen. When school started, things just seemed to get easier in the sense that I started to fall in love with learning! Now I’ve gone full on chick flick. Still, I did. I fell in love with it. All of it. The subjects really interested me and I would find myself researching things for hours and being overly specific with my notes. Before I knew it the school year was almost over. So far everything was going so well, for school anyways.
My personal life was a bit of a different story. Let’s just say, for the most part, I wasn’t entirely good to my body. Late nights, and truthfully, probably too much partying. Working in a popular restaurant in down town Boston can lead to such activities. Ignoring my health, I eventually ended up getting rather sick (of course during kinesiology the class I looked forward to the most). I had been so stressed out with everything else in my life my body was pretty much giving out on me. I specifically remember one day where it was really bad and my teacher had just looked at me and said, “Go! Get out of my class and go to a doctor. Right now.” ME! Of all people, I had been forced to go home! This was a very new concept for me, as in grade school I would leave at any chance I got.
Long story short, my immune system was a bit run down and a few nutritional deficiencies were to blame (thank goodness, an easy fix), but I had something that sparked a fire in me. I had purpose, I had meaning, I had substance! I felt such a pull towards massage and the possibilities it could have for me that I HAD to fix my health and my life. Did I mention I was a bit of a wild child? Finally graduation came, and the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. Eight years later I’m still very much in love with what I do. The avenues are endless and help keep my ever so fleeting attention span. Today I own my own practice, work at a franchise massage establishment (ya ya I know, but this place is actually one of the best jobs I’ve ever had), and oversee the student clinic at a local massage school. My love for learning is still strong, which has lead me to this blog. So I can share a piece of my world and knowledge with anyone who cares to listen (or read really). Hopefully maybe even inspire a few people, who knows. Guess my possibilities are still endless.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
By: Karyl Taylor LMP
It seems to me that as the massage world continues to get bigger, the less I hear of anyone wanting (or performing really) a Swedish massage. I continuously hear, “I’m not here for relaxing, I’m here to feel better!” Feel better, well that is a rather subjective notion. The idea of “feeling better” today has somehow become based on how painful the massage can be. The whole no pain no gain has been all too widely accepted. Now don’t get me wrong I am all for feeling a bit of discomfort in my massage in order to “feel better”, but does it always have to be deep tissue? Now I know this will spark a whole new argument, debating whether or not deep tissue has to hurt in order to be deep tissue. Another time, another blog.
Research studies through the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine and International Journal of Neuroscience, claim that massage increases serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin as well as decreases levels of cortisol. So what does that mean for the body? Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmitters that help regulate and elevate your mood. When low levels of either happen, it has been linked with depression, anxiety, and over all lethargy. Oxytocin is a bit more different. This fun hormone has been deemed the “cuddle hormone” because it has been shown to be released during cuddling. While it is a hormone, it tends to act as a neurotransmitter, making it an interesting little neuropeptide that makes you feel oh so warm and cuddly on the inside. Oh, did I mention that each of these studies done were with 45 minute Swedish massage?
So far, I’ve just gone over the physiological effects of massage therapy. While raising those neurotransmitters and hormones alone will make anyone start to feel good, it still leaves out the actual pain and ache that bring people in for a massage. One of the more recent studies randomly assigned 400 adults with moderate to severe lower back pain that lasted for three or more months to either a weekly whole body Swedish massage, weekly massage that focused on specific muscles problems in the lower back and around the hips, or usual care. The people in the usual care group were mostly prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxants, and just seeing their regular doctor.
After ten weeks, participants in both massage groups reported greater average improvements in pain and functioning then those in the usual care groups. The type of massage used made no difference in the outcome. At the end of the ten week study, 36-39% of patients in the massage groups said their pain was nearly or completely gone, while the usual care group had a whopping 4%. The part that strikes me the most here is that both massage groups were hand in hand (no pun intended). Whether it was a Swedish massage or a specific massage, both groups had noticeable relief in pain. Not too bad for just a “relaxation” massage.