5 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care Between Massage Appointments

People with neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while folding laundry, doing yard work, playing on the computer or any of the other million things you do.

What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.

Take a Break

Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally, you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose.

Get the kids into it

Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos made especially for kids, and the moves are just as beneficial for adults. Bonus: got a little one averse to naptime? Try the lying-down postures here and maybe you’ll get a short break.

Heat it

Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels. You don’t need a fancy heating pad, you can DIY that.


Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball or a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.

Choose the right pillow

You spend about a third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day.

A few minutes of self-care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!

The Reboot for your Mind and Body

Do you feel stretched in a hundred different directions?

Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports, everything. More often than not, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week for all that needs to be done. We’re on constant high alert. We’re always moving.

All this chaos can be hard on your body and mind. When this happens, we tend to be less mindful of our eating. Or chasing sleep like it’s a lively kitten. Or we get snippy with loved ones and coworkers.

The effects of this day to day stress are cumulative for most of us. Stiff joints get stiffer. Cranky shoulders get crankier, then one rogue golf swing or one heavy laundry basket makes it worse.

Massage is the mini-vacation you probably need.

Without the sand in your shoes and having to pull your computer out of your backpack.

Massage therapy is a reboot. It’s the control-alt-delete for your body and mind.

A massage resets your thoughts, slows your pulse, regulates your breathing, and recharges your mind.

Spend some time on my massage table, taking care of you. You can schedule online right here, or call me at 978-758-8011 to make your appointment.


Body image risk and reward in massage

Body image. Almost everybody has something about their body that they don’t like. For many people, it’s a minor issue, no big deal. But some people have a major issue with their body image. It affects how they live and their happiness.

When I tell some people that I’m a massage therapist it can cause a strong reaction. They tell me, whether verbally or through their reaction and body language, that massage is not for them. Their body image is such an issue that they don’t think anybody else can accept them.

The paradox here is that massage can really help with body image issues. In massage school, we were all nervous about taking off our clothes and letting somebody else touch us. It didn’t take long for us to discover that bodies are just bodies and become much more comfortable with our own. We also experienced how good receiving a massage made us feel. Something unexpected happened – when our bodies felt better we felt better about our bodies.

I think there are three options to consider. Let’s look at the risk versus reward for them.

1. Don’t get a massage.

This is the easiest because it involves doing nothing. The risk is low since you are not letting another person see or touch you at all.

The reward is zero. You didn’t get a massage so your body doesn’t feel any better, and you still have the stress you had before.

2. You get a massage, but the massage therapist either makes note of how you look as if it matters.

If this has happened to you, I’m sorry. You got a crappy massage therapist. That’s a bummer, and I’m really sorry. You took a risk, and even if the rest of the massage was decent, got very little reward.

This is not going to happen if you come to me. Never. No way. I can’t say this strongly enough. It goes against the very nature of who I am, how I treat people, and what I believe.

3. You get a massage. A great massage. And the therapist does nothing to make you feel uncomfortable about your body. In fact, you feel pretty good about your body after the massage.

In this option your risk is low. I don’t care how your body looks. That’s none of my business. I just want to help it feel better. Your reward is high. Again your body will feel better from the massage and you can start feeling better about it.

I have no idea how your body got to be in the condition that it’s in. You may be dealing with something that you can’t control, such as a medical condition or an injury or accident. You may be in a lot of pain or are limited in what you can do physically. Since I don’t know what caused your body to be like it is now I can’t make any judgments about you.

I’ve worked on hundreds – maybe thousands – of people. Each body is interesting and I’ve yet to come across one that I could not help. If you have been avoiding massage because you feel uncomfortable about your body, let’s find an option that works for you. You don’t even have to explain anything to me. Leave your clothes on. Stay sitting up or face down or lying on your side or however you want. It’s up to you.

It’s my job to help you feel better. That’s it. Together let’s find a way to help you relieve your pain and stress. Don’t let your body image keep you from feeling good.

What’s The Difference Between A Good And A Fantastic Massage Therapist?

If you’ve decided that now is the time to make a real commitment to your well being, and you’re thinking of including regular massage in your schedule, congratulations! You’ve made a real great decision.
With so many massage centers and therapists to choose from, how will you know if you’re booking in with a great therapist or just a mediocre one? Here are a few tips on choosing the very best therapist for you.
1. A fantastic massage therapist will go out of her way to make you feel relaxed and welcome when you attend for your first massage. She will ask you lots of questions and let you ask any questions that you need to, making sure that you’re put at ease right from the start.
2. Fantastic therapists maintain their energy throughout the day. It takes a strong person with great stamina to give many treatments in a row, and if you’re lucky enough to find a fantastic massage therapist, you’ll be able to trust that even if you book the very last appointment of the day, the pressure will be as strong as it needs to be and she’ll be as enthusiastic as she was when she started work.
3. Fantastic therapists know when to chat and when you just need some peace and quiet. A top quality therapist is experienced or well-trained enough to be able to spot the client who is shy and not interested in talking through a treatment, and can also accommodate the talkative client who might also be nervous but deals with their nerves by talking a lot. In that case, they might try to calm the talkative client down so that they enjoy their massage a little more!
4. Fantastic therapists always offer you a glass of water after a massage. No exceptions. While some massage therapists will advise you to go home and drink lots of water, if a therapist is really excellent she will already have a cool glass of water on hand for after your massage.
5. Fantastic massage therapists know all about great customer service. You’ll be treated like the important person you are when you work with a fantastic therapist. You’ll feel that your time and needs are respected and you’ll never feel as if you’re an inconvenience. There are always times when a therapist might run over, have to cancel or there could be another issue. The mark of a great therapist is how she deals with this; if she apologizes, doesn’t try to shift responsibility and sorts out any problems with good grace, you’ve got a good one. If she blames other staff, won’t accept any
responsibility and doesn’t give you confidence in her ability to deal with any issues you raise, it could be time to find a new therapist.
If your massage therapist is awesome, comment below what makes them so good…

Massage Those Regular Headaches Away

Headaches can be a real misery and sometimes it can seem as if you’ve tried everything to get rid of
them but they just keep on coming back. Painkillers can seem like the obvious choice because yes,
they do work – but then the headache will often return. If you’re really unlucky you may also end up
with a rebound headache which is common in people who take painkillers regularly. So, what can
you do?
If you doctor tells you that medically you’re fine and sends you away with instructions to relax more
and get some sleep, it might feel as though you’re not being taken seriously. If just getting more
sleep and less stress were the answer we’d have found a way to do it by now, and in any case…life
isn’t that simple. And you still have a headache.
Massage therapy might be a way out of the headache hell that doesn’t involve taking drugs that only
end up making the problem worse.
More Americans complain about headaches than any other medical condition. It’s thought that
around 45 million Americans suffer from headaches every year, and of course that’s only the people
who report them. Statistically, it’s around one in every six people – with more than eight million
Americans going as far as seeing their doctor about it.
How can massage help a headache?
Massage has two main benefits when it comes to beating regular headaches.
A massage can help headaches that are caused by trigger points, muscle spasms and general
tension. These are thought to be a major cause of headaches and a massage therapist has some
great tools to help give you relief from the pain – her hands. Some points on your body, like the back
of your skull can bring on a feeling of deep relaxation, and this spot is known to be a great place to
massage anyone who has tension headaches.
Regular massage helps to regulate hormones in your body that manage your mood, sleeping
patterns and appetite. We all know that if we’re feeling tired, if we have low blood sugar or if we’re
just in a bad mood we’re prone to getting headaches, so regulating the hormones responsible can
really help decrease the number of headaches you experience.
What else can you do about regular headaches?
There are other things that will help banish your regular sore heads, and your massage therapist will
be able to give you a bit of advice about what might work for you – as well as providing healing
hands. Make sure that you tell her about your work environment, sleeping habits and arrangements
and even things like how much coffee you drink because these are all potential triggers for
headaches that with a little tweaking could substantially reduce the number of bad heads you suffer
With something as common as a headache, often it’s the simple things that can make all the
difference. A muscle tension easing massage can potentially relieve headaches caused by bad
posture, too many pillows or not getting enough exercise, reducing pressure on the nerves and
blood vessels that compound the problem.
So next time you reach to pop another pill, remember that masking the pain with a drugstore
remedy will not stop your headaches – so book yourself in for a massage treatment and give
yourself the gift of long term pain relief!

What to do when you’re too sick for a massage

Obviously, we’re all big fans of the healing powers of a good massage, and we love to tell you all about just how good a regular massage can make you feel. But there are times when a massage might not be the best way forward, and so if any of these apply to you, it might be better to reschedule for when you’re feeling better!

Coughs, colds and flu –  We get it, we know you’re feeling terrible and you’d really love to get a massage when you have the aches and pains of a bad cold. The thing is; it’s probably not going to do you as much good as it would normally. In fact, it might have the opposite effect on you. One of the great things about a massage is that it can help to boost your circulation and also your lymphatic system. If you’re fighting off a bug, the last thing your lymphatic system needs is to be made to work harder, which is what a massage will do. It’s already busy trying to fight the germs and carry them out of your system. Putting your body under pressure to work even harder when it’s already working as hard as it can to bring you back to health again can make you feel awful. If you’re feeling the effects of a cold, or a virus, just be kind to yourself. Cancel the massage, rest up, drink lots of chicken soup and come back when you’re fully recovered and able to feel all the positive effects of your massage treatment. If you attend a massage appointment when you’re feeling under the weather, you put yourself at a higher risk of catching another bug as you’re compromising your immune system by making it work harder. This is why massage therapists encourage their clients to not get a massage if they are unwell. The benefits are cancelled out by the pressure a massage can put on your immune system. You should definitely avoid Swedish and deep tissue style massages until you’re better as these are the massages that stimulate your circulation the most and can overload your system. It’s not always good to share. There’s no delicate way of putting this so we’re just going to come right out and say it; we don’t want your germs! Staying at home is best all round if you have something nasty, because you won’t feel any better for dragging yourself out to your massage appointment, and if we catch it, we won’t be well either! Most massage therapists are self-employed so illness can be more than just an inconvenience – it could mean that we are unable to work, losing us money, because we don’t want to pass the germs on to our other clients. We will be really pleased to see you again when you’re feeling better, but if you’re not sure whether you’re well enough to make your massage appointment, you probably aren’t. Cancel, re-book and take the day off.

Understanding Migraine Headaches

Understanding Migraine Headaches Migraine is more than ‘just a headache.’ Anyone who has ever suffered from the misery of a migraine will tell you that they can be anything from unsettling and uncomfortable to downright incapacitating. Not all people who experience migraines will get the classic headache – and some people don’t experience the headache every time. Because a migraine headache is considered a ‘primary’ headache, because there is no apparent underlying condition that could be causing it, they can be hard to treat. What Is a Migraine Headache? A migraine headache is more of a condition than just a headache. Migraine headaches are typically very severe and can come with additional symptoms like dizziness, nausea and even loss of speech and sight which can be extremely frightening. In some people, they are accompanied by sight disturbances and other neurological symptoms that doctors call the ‘migraine aura’. Sometimes, in a migraine with aura, there is no headache or it can be averted with painkillers at the aura stage, but in other cases the classic migraine headache can be blindingly painful, lasting anything from 20 minutes to a couple of days. Some people who experience sudden, severe, or recurrent migraines will need to be seen by a doctor and examined for other possible conditions, but in most cases migraines just have to be managed and treated as there is no cure – and often no obvious triggers. As migraine can sometimes be associated with other more severe conditions, if you have what you think is a migraine for the first time, you should seek advice from a medical professional. How long can a migraine last? Migraines are notorious for sticking around a long time. Some migraines only last for a few hours but if you’re unlucky enough to suffer from severe, prolonged migraines they can last for several days. Sometimes, the migraine sufferer will experience neurological symptoms before, during, and afterwards, including strange floating lights and auras. They might also experience these symptoms between bouts of pain. What causes migraines? Although the exact cause of migraine headaches is not known, most studies think there’s a genetic link that’s exacerbated by other triggers. Migraines tend to run in families and are usually hereditary. Some people can be set off by very strong smells, certain foods, heat, or bright lights. Understanding Migraine Headaches How do you treat a migraine? This is something you might want to discuss with your doctor, but there are options available for managing migraines. Many people turn to medication, understandably. Massage therapy can help to reduce the number of migraines in sufferers – a 2006 study of migraine sufferers showed that people who had massages experienced fewer migraines and slept better during the weeks they had massages, although it was a small study. You may have to try several different treatment options before discovering the best one for you.

Which is better massage or stretching?

Massage and stretching are both really helpful ways to keep your muscles relaxed, reduce tension and of course help recovery after an injury. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which is great if you’ve injured yourself, or if your muscled are stiff because they’ve contracted due to inactivity.
Giving your muscles a really good stretch can stop your muscles from going into painful spasms or cramps, and stop the knots forming in them that take so much work to get rid of when you
have a massage!
Regular massage on the other hand improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place. What are the differences between massage and stretches – and how do they work together to promote muscle and joint health?
What is a massage? Well, stripped right down, massage is simply a word that’s used to describe the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Of course there are lots of different types of massage, and techniques that are suitable for different things, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing.
What’s massage good for?
We love a massage for general well being, but medically massage is recognized for more than just making you feel good.
Massage can:
 Help strained muscles to heal faster
 Reduce swelling and scar tissue if you’re injured
 Relieve stiffness and tension in your muscles
 Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue
Stretching does have a lot of similarities to massage, but its main benefit is to relieve the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve used (and over-used) them.
Having a really good, effective stretch can increase the blood flow to your muscles, and this leads to a better range of motion that helps your joints to stay in alignment
What’s stretching good for?
Stretching properly can;
 Improve your circulation
 Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve can create pressure that can constrict the blood supply to the nerve.
 Make movement easier
 Improve flexibility
How can massage and a stretching routine work together?
Daily stretching – to a point where you can just feel it pulling on your muscles – can really help to increase your flexibility, and you can feel the effects in a matter of a few weeks.
Enjoying a regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.
Ask your massage therapist for advice if you have any injuries or are experiencing stiffness in your muscles.

Can I use my Health Savings Account for Massage?

Using Your Health Savings Account (HSA) for Massage Therapy

Do you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and are wondering if you can use the funds for massage therapy? Massage therapy CAN be a qualified medical expense, if you meet all of the criteria below.

The IRS ruling states: “Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes. Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They do not include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.”

Examples of some conditions that COULD qualify are: Fibromyalgia, chronic back/neck/shoulder pain, MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, depression, migraines, and pain after surgery. Massage therapy has been shown to be beneficial for all these conditions. You don’t need to live with pain!

How to get Health Savings Account (HSA) approval for massage therapy.

Set up an appointment with your medical doctor and let them know that you have HSA funds that you would like to use for massage therapy for treatment/prevention of your condition.
If your physician agrees, they will need to provide three pieces of information on the prescription:
1. Medical necessity: why you need massage therapy (example: to relieve back pain)
2. Frequency: number of sessions per month (example: minimum of two sessions per month)
3. Duration: length of treatment (example: 3,6,9,12 months)

It’s also a good idea to be certain that you are getting the correct prescriptions/documentation in order to use your HSA funds so check with your employer. The appropriate department is usually human resources since they administer benefits for employees. If they can’t answer your question, then they should be able to direct you to the administrator of your HSA plan. It’s always best to be sure that you know that massage (with prescription) would be covered before you make your appointment so that you are not responsible for paying out of pocket or taking a tax hit.

Once you have the prescription then you can set up an appointment for massage. Keep the prescription in a safe place in case you need to provide documentation. Bring your HSA card with you to your appointment. Judy Brezner Massage can accept HSA cards for payment.

If your physician is not sure about the benefits of massage for your condition, I would be happy to provide them with scientific research on how massage can help.

More information about HSA is made available within IRS publication 969 & 502.

Should a Massage Hurt?

Have you been wondering if a massage has to hurt to be effective?
If so, you are not alone. Many people believe that a massage has to hurt in order to be effective. Well it doesn’t! You’ll be happy to hear that the saying, “No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to massage therapy. Sometimes the most effective massages are the ones that don’t cause you any pain. Something that feels marvelous, and it’s good for you too? It doesn’t get much better than that!
Deep Tissue Massage might cause some discomfort….
A deep tissue massage is when the massage therapist manipulates the deeper layers of your soft tissue. Soft tissue includes your muscles, ligaments, fascia, and tendons (it’s pretty much everything that isn’t bones or organs). Usually your massage therapist will use lotions or oil, and will work lighter at first, this is important, it helps relax the top layer of tissue and muscle, meaning less pain for you. Then the deeper layers of muscle can be worked on more easily and with less pain. This will feel much better and
you will get better results!
Typically, deep tissue massage is recommended for those with chronic pain caused by tight muscles or injuries. Deep tissue massage can be very therapeutic because it helps with relieving patterns of tension that have developed over time and helping with muscle injuries. With a good deep tissue session massage will feel more relaxed after the massage if no pain was endured during it. It’s hard (nearly impossible) to relax if you are in pain, and muscle tension will release in a state of relaxation. Deep tissue massage is not for everyone! You are not a wimp if you don’t like it. It is one of the more involved and intense massage techniques. Some people simply like the feeling of more pressure, and a
firm massage isn’t always deep tissue. Just be sure to communicate with your therapist about what you prefer and need. Speak up your therapist will appreciate your feedback, happy clients are regular clients, and your therapist wants you to love your massage.
Pain versus Discomfort –  Muscles naturally react to any sort of pain. When your muscles feel that your body is about to be injured the reflex to deflect the pain is stimulated. If your massage therapist is ever applying too much pressure, your muscles tighten together to naturally counterattack the force, and that is not a great way to relax.

A massage is meant to relieve the tension of your muscles so if you feel as though the massage therapist is applying too much pressure for comfort, just ask them to use less pressure. Seriously, they want you to.
Don’t go into the massage thinking there won’t be any discomfort at all though. Pain and discomfort are two different things. People usually describe discomfort as a “good hurt” – especially in reference to getting a massage. When you experience pain during a massage, it is more than discomfort and could even cause bruising or injury.
Everybody has different tolerances for pain, so a massage that is painful for one person may not be painful for you. If you find that your massage therapist isn’t working between your tolerance levels for pain, then it’s important that you say something. Massages should almost never cause you physical pain and very rarely is it okay for you to be left with marks on your body afterwards. If you are booking your first massage, you probably don’t want to start out with a deep tissue session. Ease your way into massage therapy and start with something less specific, like Swedish or integrative massage. Most therapists combine massage techniques and will try to give you the best massage for you.

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