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Senior woman with help of physiotherapist

The Space Between Fitness and Medicine: Where “the Good You Do For Others” Brings the Reward you Deserve | Part 2

In our first part of this three-part discussion, in addressing the topic of financial reward, I asked you to ponder the value of restoration.  What, I prompted you to consider, is the value of helping someone who has moved along the dis-ease continuum, gradually leaving health in the proverbial rear-view-mirror back toward divine health?

It isn’t an easy question to answer.  We can tackle it by considering all of the dollars those who incur inflammatory issues, chronic challenges, and cellular degradation will have to invest in maintaining function and comfort.  We might also attempt to place a monetary value upon lost quality of life.  We might even consider the simple question, “what would someone pay to rediscover health” considering their fear and apprehension of the alternative, and from that extrapolate the value.

If you are willing to believe that personal trainers with advanced education and the development of a complementary skill set can have immeasurable impact upon “the unwell population,” one perspective becomes clear.

The trainer versed in restoring health commands a far greater value than the personal training mainstream.

That’s important.

STEPPING UP A LEVEL

As in any field, a specialist with enhanced value will serve his or her marketplace best by finding a direct line of contact with those in need of their specialty.

In the sentence above, “need” is the key word.

While it’s oft been said that personal trainers are a luxury or a privilege, with an appropriate adjustment in perspective, those who have slipped into the largest segment of our adult population, the unwell market, might consider any therapeutic resource, if wellness is a goal, a “need.”

Now that I’ve mentioned it a few times, I’ll provide a general description of the market I’m referring to as “unwell.” Then I’ll help you see the opportunity to step up, to meet this population in an arena where they “need” you.  I’, to command a value in line with a well-justified fee, and . . . here’s the biggie . . . to provide them the service they will truly benefit from.

WHO ARE THE UNWELL?

Let’s be really clear here.  I’m not suggesting the opportunity lies in training “sick people.”  I’m suggesting the largest, most opportune market share is made up of many American adults between the ages of 35 and 65.  They aren’t “sick” in a clinical sense.  They work.  They drive their kids to school.   They shop in the malls and grocery stores.  They eat in the neighborhood restaurants.  They pump gas in the same gas stations you do and they frequent Starbuck’s, Chipotle, and the local pizza place.

They don’t have need for hospitalization or chronic care . . . but they’ve slipped, moved along what I’m calling the dis-ease continuum.  They’ve begun a process of maladaptation, a movement away from healthful homeostasis, and while many haven’t yet been diagnosed (many have), their bodies have become imbalanced.  Whether it’s a hormonal imbalance, thyroid irregularity, blood sugar elevation, hypertensive condition, hypercholesterolemia, or chronic inflammation of one or several bodily systems, they have moved into a place where innate homeostasis is no longer their “norm.”

Not sick, at least not clinically, but not well.  What’s alarming is, I’m describing near 65% of the adult population over the age of 45.  Yes, the market is vast.

If the unwell were being cured of their ailments or remedied by the conventions of medicine, I wouldn’t see the “need” as being this opportune.  All I need to share is a single statement to help you see why there’s a desperate need for a new type of health practitioner, one who masters the exercise and eating intervention.  Here’s that statement.

In a society where chronic disease is most treated with pharmaceutical intervention, there isn’t a single medication that will cure any chronic disease.

Read that again.  While there exists a wild array of meds to manage conditions and change biomarkers, there isn’t one that will cure the plight of the unwell.

Conversely, there is an extensive body of evidence to demonstrate the power we have over shifts in blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormonal disruption when we strategically employ a variety of exercise modalities and guidance in the realm of supportive nutrition.

If the demand is great, the “need” remains unfulfilled, and the greatest potential lies in the skill set we, as fitness professionals, have access to . . . our value escalates above virtually any conventional yet impotent “cures.”

THE LEVEL 2 TRAINER AS A CORRECTIVE HEALTH SPECIALIST

If we consider a “Level 1” trainer someone who is qualified, credentialed, and able to provide safe and effective exercise prescription to a healthy population, let’s consider a “Level 2” someone who can effectively target this Unwell niche and deliver improvements in biomarkers, condition, and quality of life.

The Level 2 trainer can identify his or her “ideal client avatar.”  Moving forward I’ll refer to the Ideal Client Avatar as an “ICA.”

In establishing a presence and a track record with the Unwell, the enhanced personal trainer (enhanced with a higher level of education than the standard and an ability to implement positive change in the unwell) can justifiably command fees in line with other health practitioners, medical practitioners, and specialists.

In setting a fee structure, there should be a professional standard, a relationship-based fee that is consistent, one that exceeds “an industry standard.”  Remember, if you deliver above the standard, you deserve reward above the usual.

HOW DO YOU STEP UP AND CREATE AN AUDIENCE?

Marketing, for the Level 2 trainer targeting this niche is not as haphazard as “pass out cards, talk it up in the gym, and talk to everyone about what you do.”

In order to establish your position, you’ll want to have four.  Four strong successes.  Four living examples of the value you deliver, and finding those four requires a bit of front-end work.  Once you have your four you have a sound foundation upon which to build.  The question, therefore, that merits consideration is . . . how do you “break in.”  Where do your “four” come from.

I’ll make it step by step.

Note that everything that follows is based upon the assumption that you have received extraordinary training, that you’ve established a level of education complementary to your base credential, and that you’re positioned to initiate and maintain a practice with a revised focus on empowering clients to reverse the imbalances inherent in chronic disease.  This is a prerequisite of paramount importance and although I won’t invest any more time in addressing it here, don’t allow my failure to repeat and reiterate this point as an indication its any less than vital.

STEP ONE: Define your Ideal Client Avatar.  If you have a personal connection to a given condition or population (i.e. a relative with diabetes, a personal history with thyroid issues, etc.) and you have a passion for helping others who you feel are kindred spirits, that’s where you should best direct your marketing.  You can’t “market well” until you define your ICA.  This is a “must” in turning your ambition into financial security (and it’s the step most who seek to elevate their careers miss or ignore).  Your ICA may not be based on your personal experience, but rather on where you see the greatest opportunity or where you have the greatest inroads.  Devote time to getting clear on your ICA.  It’s the true key to successfully “Stepping up to Level 2.”

STEP TWO: Determine your fee structure, your promise, and your offer.  You don’t want to approach each prospective client with an open negotiation, nor do you want to exhibit uncertainty.  As any business owner, design your foundation.  What, precisely, are you promising each client?  How are you compensated for that?  What, precisely, is the person considering retaining you, supposed to do now, as a point of commitment.

STEP THREE: Choose a location, an affiliation, a network, and a social media platform where you can “meet” your ICA and spread the word.  This is far simpler than it sounds.  In outlining your ICA, simply as the question, “where do I find him (her)?”  This is marketing at its core.  Don’t think “medical.”  Think real life.  Where can you do a talk, a workshop, a presentation, knowing your ICA sits in the audience.  I realize this is the intimidating step . . . but it’s also the one that brings  you to human connection, and ultimately to commitment and money exchange.  Perhaps in the future I’ll share an entire article devoted to “finding your ICA in the real world.”   For now, accept that you have the answer to the question, you have the ability, and all it takes is a bit of courage and determination.

STEP FOUR: Create your Four.  Do your thing.  Work your magic.  Use your skill set.   Bring about change.  Documentable change.  Once you have your first four successes, you begin to build what I call an Arsenal of Evidence, and from that point on, the marketing challenge is replaced by magnetic appeal.

STEP FIVE: Build your business confidently, massively, professionally, and without limit.

This 3-part piece is intended, not to be a complete primer for business building, but to give you a sense of both the opportunity and your ability.

In creating a distinction between the progressive trainer willing to study, learn, and elevate, I’ve used the term “Level 2,” not to suggest any elite status, but to demonstrate a clear escalation in earning potential.  Before I conclude this second part of the piece, I’ll outline a few elements of what I’m calling The Level 2 Trainer.

FIVE DISTINCTIVE ELEMENTS OF THE LEVEL 2 TRAINER

  1. You are a specialist among a given population
  2. You command fees above the norm
  3. You have a consistent promise and offer
  4. You have a track record and consistently grow a marketing / referral base
  5. You understand and recognize the value in the potential you have as a guide to empower others to move away from chronic disease and back toward divine health

Is there a level above the Level 2 trainer?  Yes.  And the sky’s the limit.  Literally.  More to come in Part 3!

This is 3 part series. Read part 1 here, and part 3 here


Phil Kaplan has been a fitness leader and Personal Trainer for over 30 years having traveled the world sharing strategies for human betterment.  He has pioneered exercise and eating interventions documented as having consistent and massive impact in battling chronic disease.  His dual passion combines helping those who desire betterment and helping health professionals discover their potential.  Email him at phil@philkaplan.com

senior man having a massage in a spa center

What is an Allied Healthcare Professional?

Whether it’s exercise, nutrition, or massage therapy you are seeking, finding the right person to do the job can be incredibly challenging. The area known as allied healthcare professionals can be a challenging one to navigate.

The professions that require a state or national licensures, such as physicians, nurses, or physical therapists, help to provide checks and balances on who should and should not be providing a service to any individual. However, there are many professions within our healthcare community that are poorly understood and many times misrepresented by individuals with minimal certifications or credentials.

Allied healthcare professionals are thought to make up roughly 60% of the healthcare workforce by providing a range of diagnstic, technical, therapeutic and direct patient care and support services that are critical to the other health professionals they work with and the patients they serve. All categories of allied healthcare require either registration by law to practice or post secondary degree or higher education. Click here for more information about allied healthcare professions.

Is it time to re-assess who you trust with your healthcare needs?

It is essential to know the credentials and education of anyone you are trusting for information or advice whether it be an accountant, lawyer, dentist or teacher. Healthcare is no different, but there are many misunderstood healthcare professions.

Distinct from nursing, dentistry or medicine, allied healthcare professionals make up approximately 60% of the health workforce. Examples include athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, paramedic, and massage therapist. Many times, these professionals are those you are referred to by your physicians to help manage your healthcare needs daily, weekly, and monthly. National and state licensures ensure that certain healthcare professionals uphold the standards and scope of pratice that is pertinent to their level of education.

senior man having a massage in a spa centerMultiple allied professions remain to establish this key aspect of standardized care which simply means that certain professions are more susceptible to individuals claiming a level of expertise or knowledge that can be misleading or confusing to the general population. For example, as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, I clearly understand the difference between my skillset and that of a personal trainer; however, to the general public, both professions provide guidance with exercise. Due to lack of established licensure exams, it is unclear to many people that some Exercise Physiologists (like myself) have a Master’s Degree, while others may have earned a weekend certification. It is incredibly important for you to understand the roll of any healthcare professional from which you seek treatment and advice as well as their experience and background in relation to your particular healthcare needs. Accessing information about these resources from a knowledgeable professional can help to ensure proper connection to an individual that is appropriately educated to effectively meet your needs.


Jaclyn Chadbourne, MA, CES has worked within the allied health profession as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist for 15 years.  She is currently the Director of Research and Development at Universal Medical Technology, and serves as Adjunct Faculty at University of New England DPT Program

Therapist doing massage releasing tension by pressing chest on p

I have heart disease. Is massage right for me?

Senior man having a massageAccording to the Heart Foundation.org about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain. The prevalence of heart disease increases with age for both women and men.

Heart disease requires a variety of possible treatments, including various medications and procedures. Some people with heart disease may benefit from regular massage, but there are certain types of massage that can possibly cause serious damage. You need to be sure you’re in a knowledgeable practitioner’s hands to make sure you are safe.

Can Massage Help?

A hypothetical example:

Alex is a 59-year old tax preparer who has moderately High Blood Pressure that is easily controlled with a healthy lifestyle and medications. He is married, enjoys golfing, shooting, and watching football. As Alex’s work becomes busier during tax season, he gets headaches that are frequent and intense.  And when he works too much, he doesn’t have time to take care of himself like he should.

Alex’s doctor recommended that massage could help compliment his treatment plan to stabilize his blood pressure. His doctor referred him to a therapist who is experienced in working with cardiovascular patients. The doctor and therapist agreed that a relaxation massage with some trigger point and stretch techniques mixed in would be safe and beneficial for him.

After a few massage sessions, his headaches decreased. The doctor recommended a massage twice every month, but during busy season, Alex likes to go every week. The routine gives him peace of mind in knowing he’s doing everything he can to take good care of himself. For him, massage is a great antidote to the hours at his desk, and he finds himself less “grumpy” when he gets home after a hard day. When work is less busy, and Alex has more time for golf, he finds that massage gives him great relief for his low back tension, which helps his swing. Alex considers massage as part of his prescribed health routine, just like eating carefully and exercising.

What should you be careful of?

Because there are so many different types of cardiovascular conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The type of massage that you have seen on TV is not the only kind out there, and in fact, may not be right for you. Your complete health history must be considered before making a decision. You must always talk to your doctor before deciding to embark on a personal massage program:

Blood thinning drugs: Cause the body to be more sensitive and in some cases, even fragile. Deep tissue done on someone taking blood thinners can cause inflammation, bruising, and tissue or organ damage.  Like the wise man said, more is not always better.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Massage may be just the thing to help you manage stress and subsequently your high blood pressure (just like the example above). Low blood pressure is also a concern, and because massage lowers one’s blood pressure slightly, it is not uncommon for individuals taking medication to lower their blood pressure.  This would cause them to get a bit lightheaded just after receiving a massage, until the blood pressure returns to normal.

Blood Clot: Individuals with a history of blood clots (aka Thrombosis) should avoid Swedish Massage. Swedish massage techniques on someone who has a risk of blood clotting could possibly dislodge a clot and release it into the blood stream. In a worst-case scenario, this can induce a stroke or heart attack, or a lung blockage.

Pacemaker: If an individual has a pacemaker, stent, or any kind of apparatus implanted into a vein/artery which is superficial (in the neck and leg would be considered superficial, but inside the rib cage is not), the therapist must avoid pressing over that area so as not to dislodge or damage it or surrounding tissues. But massage can usually be safely done on the rest of the body.

Massage can usually be great for someone who has Arrhythmia or a disruption in the heart rate, if that is the only health concern.

An individual with any signs of Congestive Heart Failure should avoid vigorous Swedish massage or limit Swedish massage to less than 15-20 minutes.  Gentle Massage on head, feet and hands is not a problem.

Close-up of a physiotherapist massaging a senior woman's back in the medical officeYou must find a therapist who is experienced and knows how to keep you safe. If they don’t ask about your medications or medical history, you’re not in the right office. Interview them on the phone before you go, and check their credentials. You probably want to ask your doctor to consult with your therapist so they can discuss your options. You probably CAN have massage, but it may be different from what you imagined, or what you see on TV.

How do you choose a practitioner?

If you are seeing a cardiologist, you should definitely get medical clearance before you have a massage. You should also get guidance on what kind of massage is best, and what the risks are. You should call your therapist before your appointment to make sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to keep you safe and comfortable. Most Certified or Licensed massage therapists get instruction on working with individuals with heart disease as part of their entry level massage education. However, there are additional classes available, and each therapist has varying levels of awareness and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during the massage it feels worse than a “hurts good” sensation, then it’s too much, and you should speak up. Your therapist should never encourage you to suffer through anything you don’t like during a session.

The MedFit Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area. In the right hands, you are sure to relax and find comfort through skilled touch. Search Now.


Kathy Flippin’s passion is to offer excellent therapeutic massage, and educate her clients on how they can take the best care possible of themselves. Kathy is the owner of Dynamic Touch Massage and has been a Sports Massage Therapist since 1997. Her clients include everyone from professional athletes to active grandmothers.

senior man having a massage in a spa center

Massage for Parkinson’s

The incidence of Parkinson’s disease in the United States is estimated at 1 million, with an additional 50,000 patients being diagnosed every year.

The most common signs of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, muscle rigidity, akinesia (temporary inability to move), dyskinesia (inability to execute specific voluntary movements at will) and loss of postural reflexes. The back posture becomes stooped, and the walk gradually turns to a shuffle as the arms stop swinging.

Can Massage Help?

senior man having a massage in a spa centerAccording to a 2002 study conducted by the Touch Research Institute:

Massage therapy can improve many PD symptoms and function, from the reduction of rigidity and improvement of sleep, to the reduction of tremor and increase of daily activity stamina symptoms.

The underlying reduction in the neurotransmitter, dopamine, is the cause of many of the PD symptoms. Massage has been shown to have positive effect on the release of neurotransmitters, enhancing their calming influence.

Other Benefits of massage are:

  • Improved Sleep and digestion
  • Reduced Stress, Depression and Moodiness
  • Relief for Cramping and Rigidity
  • Less Fatigue and Anxiety
  • Reduced Perception of Pain

Precautions

  • Give a full medical history, including other injuries and conditions besides Parkinson’s
  • Use Caution in areas with loss of sensation, light touch is best.
  • Be Careful getting on and off the massage table, balance issues may cause risk of falling.

What to Expect

Your therapist should take a complete health history, including a thorough list of treatments and side effects such as neuropathy, rigidity and skin problems.

But your therapist should also ask about other conditions or injuries you may have. You and your therapist should agree on goals for the session, and you should have a chance to explain your preferences for pressure, and the massage environment such as temperature, music, lighting, etc.

Disrobing: Massage can be done over your clothing (without oil) if your balance is an issue, and it’s too much trouble to dress and undress. If you decide to disrobe and you are concerned about falling, you can bring an aide with you, or ask your therapist for help.

During the massage, you will always be kept covered, observing your modesty and keeping you warm. Don’t hesitate to request that your therapist, or someone else help you on and off the massage table.

Position and Turning over: Some people have trouble turning over due to rigid or weak muscles. If you feel like a fish out of water lying on your stomach, just ask your therapist to work with you lying on your side instead. In this position your therapist still has good access to massage your back muscles, and you won’t feel helpless or confined.

How to Find a Practitioner

Close-up of a physiotherapist massaging a senior woman's back in the medical officeCheck with your city or state to find out what the basic requirements are for massage therapists.

Get a few names and numbers and start calling. Your interview should include questions about training and experience in general practice, and also experience with clients like you. Ask about office environment and policies.

Choose a practitioner that has extra training and experience working with cancer patients. A more complicated health history indicates that the therapist’s expertise is more important. Also, in some cases it is best to get your doctor’s approval.

Most of all, massage should never hurt, and if it does, you should say something. A conscientious massage therapist will constantly seek your feedback during the massage to make sure that the treatment is within your comfort zone the entire time. If you don’t feel that your feedback or concerns are (or will be) addressed, you’re not in the right place.

The MedFit Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area. In the right hands, you are sure to relax and find comfort through skilled touch. Search Now.


Kathy Flippin’s passion is to offer excellent therapeutic massage, and educate her clients on how they can take the best care possible of themselves. Kathy is the owner of Dynamic Touch Massage and has been a Sports Massage Therapist since 1997. Her clients include everyone from professional athletes to active grandmothers.

Therapist doing massage releasing tension by pressing chest on p

Massage and Breast Cancer

Jane is a breast cancer survivor. She has dealt with the diagnosis and the life-changing stress it brings. She has gone through radiation to shrink her tumor to an operable size. She endured surgery that took not only her breast, but many critical lymph nodes from her armpit as well. She has undergone chemotherapy to be sure that no rogue cells may survive. She emerges from this ordeal feeling battered and bruised inside and out. The chemo has left her thin, bald, and exhausted. She experiences lasting achiness and pain in the affected arm, where circulation is sluggish at best. Her surgical scars continue to generate pain long after they have healed. She wonders when, if ever, she’ll feel like herself again. Her caregivers suggest that she “learn to live with it.”

Breast cancer survivors face so many challenges. One of the most frustrating is the challenge to “learn to live with the pain” that so often follows breast cancer surgery and treatment. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a therapy available that would ameliorate many of the worst side effects of breast cancer treatment? What if there was something a person could do that would reduce postsurgical pain, limit edema, and raise energy levels – all without drugs or further surgical intervention?

Therapist doing massage releasing tension by pressing chest on pThere is: more and more breast cancer survivors are discovering two adjunct treatments that help them to cope with the changes their illness and surgery bring about: friction therapy and massage therapy.

Many massage and bodywork therapists have traditionally been concerned about the possibility that bodywork, through its impact on the circulatory and lymphatic systems, could put cancer patients at risk of exacerbating their disease. Recently the profession has begun questioning this anxiety, and techniques have been developed that allow massage and bodywork therapists to work safely and effectively with many cancer patients. Such therapy is done in conjunction with general cancer care, always with the knowledge and understanding of the rest of the patient’s healthcare team. Friction or massage therapy is never done without the specific approval from the treating physician.

Friction Therapy Can Reduce Post-Surgical Pain

When a person undergoes surgery for any reason, the accumulation of scar tissue can cause lasting pain. Scar tissue grows wherever the skin, muscle, fascia, or other types of tissue have been injured. When a body is recovering from injury, new fibers of dense proteins begin to knit the tissues back together. These protein fibers, called collagen, are strong and sticky. They are very good at holding things together, but they can create “adhesions” – places where layers of tissue that should move freely become literally glued together. Scar tissue adhesions can limit mobility. As the scar tissue matures it begins to contract, which limits mobility even further.

Friction therapy can reverse this process in two ways. If it is applied in the first three or four months of scar tissue formation, it can influence the quality of the healing for maximum efficiency and minimize unnecessary scar tissue build-up. But even if friction therapy isn’t tried until many months after the tissue has healed incorrectly, it can still free the tissue by reversing much of the adhesion process.

Friction therapy is a non-invasive, hands-on treatment performed by a skilled therapist. No oils or creams are used so there can be no gliding over the skin. The pain producing scar tissue formation is identified first. Then the therapist uses gentle strokes, performed at a ninety degree angle to the scar, to slowly and carefully break useless, pain-causing scar tissue apart.

The client is then given gentle movements to perform daily at home to prevent new scar tissue from forming in the same places. The process is slow and steady, relieving the pain due to the formation of adhesive scar tissue.

Massage Therapy and Stress Reduction

Stress has a profound impact on the body, which devastates our disease fighting mechanisms. The chemicals we secrete when we are under stress interfere with digestion and sleep, slowing down the healing process. Research with breast cancer patients has shown that massage therapy reduces the level of stress-related chemicals in the body. Breast cancer patients who receive massage also report lower levels of anxiety and depression than recipients of other interventions. This phenomenon has been observed in other populations as well.

Massage Therapy Immune System Activity

Cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones we secrete during short and long-term stress, have been seen to diminish immune system activity. Some immune system agents that are especially disabled by a stress reaction are called natural killer cells. These natural killer cells target developing tumors for destruction.

In some populations, massage therapy has been shown to not only decrease the secretion of stress hormones, but also to increase the number of natural killer cells circulating in the blood.

Counteracting the Side Effects of Cancer Therapies

Radiation and chemotherapy are physically exhausting for the body. It can take every iota of energy simply to get up in the morning when you are in these stages of fighting cancer. Massage therapy helps to increase overall levels of energy by reducing unnecessary levels of muscle tension and stress that can make it hard to get the rest and sleep a person in recovery needs.

Positive Body Image

Massage therapist next to massage tableA woman who has been through breast cancer surgery, whether it’s a simple lumpectomy or a radical double mastectomy, emerges with a body that is fundamentally different from the one she began with. Many women struggle with body image issues following surgery. Breasts can help define a woman’s femininity, and to lose part or both of them can change how she feels about herself as a person. One of the most precious gifts massage therapy can give is a time of intimate non-sexual touch during which the whole goal of the session is to focus on how wonderful the client’s body can feel. Time spent in the simple enjoyment of physical touch can go a long way in the journey toward self-acceptance and the joy of being alive.

Massage therapy can increase energy, improve circulation and mobility, decrease soreness, help with body image, and alleviate stress. So the next time you ask about your pain and you’re told to “learn to live with it,” be aware that you have other options. Look up a massage therapist in your area who specializes in working with cancer survivors. You don’t have to live with the pain.

Finding a Massage Therapist

It is important to remember that not all massage and bodywork therapists are trained to work with cancer survivors. There are specific precautions that accompany different stages of treatment and recovery. Make sure your massage therapist is well informed and up to date on these guidelines. Check that your therapist has received training in working with people who have had or who have cancer. Be certain that they work with your medical staff, educating them about massage therapy and obtaining their permission for different massage techniques. Be clear that they understand pertinent precautions, pressure restrictions, or any areas to avoid.


Authored by Ben Benjamin, PhD and Ruth Werner, LMT. Reprinted with permission from Health Touch Issue #4. Other articles by Dr. Benjamin are available on his website.

Beautiful pregnant woman thinking of her baby

Benefits of Prenatal Massage

Prenatal Massage, Easing the Changes

What better way to show you are dedicated to giving this new life every advantage in the world than to arrange for a pregnancy massage from a specially certified therapist. Each session is designed to focus on the special needs of a mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of the child-bearing year, which includes pregnancy, birth, and post-delivery. Massage provides a nurturing touch, which in turn, nurtures the life of your unborn child.

A woman’s body changes a great deal over nine months. Her weight increases, her breasts change, her blood pressure elevates, organs are compressed and pushed up, and the muscles in her abdomen become stretched and strained. Massage can help relieve pressure and tensions created by these changes.

Benefits of a Pregnancy Massage Include:

  • An opportunity for much-needed rest and relaxation
  • Balances hormones (relieving moodiness and nausea)
  • Increases fetal circulation
  • Reduces swelling
  • Relieves back and neck pain
  • Improves skin tone elasticity
  • Deepens maternal bonding
  • Enhances body awareness (making delivery easier)

Benefits of massage after Birth

  • Post-delivery/Postpartum massage addresses the mother’s stress of carrying and caring for a newborn, speeds recovery and relieves sore muscles.
  • The childbearing year includes not only the three trimesters of pregnancy, but also during labor, and three months after delivery.
  • After delivery, a new mother must gradually regain her postural strength and pre-pregnancy state of of fitness. Your therapist will give you stretches and exercise you can do at home to help your body get back to normal.

How is pregnancy massage special?

The mother-to-be is always carefully supported in several positions. When lying face-up, she is supported with the back lifted, to provide comfort and maximum circulation to the legs and the fetus. While in a side-lying position, special pregnancy pillows support the stomach, which allows the therapists to massage the back and hips. The belly is NEVER compressed by lying face down, nor is the belly left hanging through a hole in the massage table. These methods are less than ideal for the mother’s body and for fetal circulation.

Beautiful pregnant woman thinking of her babyPregnancy massage addresses the profound changes a woman’s body experiences during the entire childbearing year. During the first months, massage can help her body balance changing hormones, which often cause morning sickness. During the Second Trimester, pregnancy massage addresses the upper and lower back pain that develops from the weight of the new baby. At the end of pregnancy, massage can relieve swollen feet and hands, numbness, hip, low back and sciatic pain. Pregnancy massage is also intended for the three months after the delivery to help the new mother regain abdominal strength, reduce soreness and relax muscle tension, and to offer a brief respite from the new duties of motherhood and caring for an infant

If you are in a “High Risk Maternity” category, or having any complications, you may still be able to have a massage, but you should definitely get medical clearance first. You should also call your therapist before your appointment to make sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to keep you safe and comfortable. Most Certified or Licensed massage therapists get instruction on working with Pregnant Mothers as part of their entry level massage education. However, there are additional classes available, and each therapist has varying levels of awareness and experience. We recommend finding a therapist that has an additional certification in Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during the massage it feels worse than a “hurts good” sensation, then it’s too much, and you should speak up. Your therapist should never encourage you to suffer through anything you don’t like during a session.

The Medical Fitness Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area to help you ease your pain, improve range of motion and reduce muscle tension. Let massage touch your life and add to your health and well-being!


References

  1. Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar;20(1):31-8.
  2. Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun;25(2):115-22.
finger-touch

Success in Life & Business… It’s a Matter of Touch

I am sure you would agree that effective communication plays a significant role in relationships with clients, customers, patients, partners, family members, colleagues, friends, etc. But what about when those individuals are away from you? Do you fill that void effectively and systematically or do you leave it to chance?

Maximizing success in life and in business is dependent upon a complete relationship. To optimize your success you must see your time away from others just as important as the time you spend with them.

Let me explain. Your spheres of relationships are continually changing from both your perspective and from the perspective of others. As a result of these shifting viewpoints, the strengths or weaknesses of these bonds fluctuate and unless you systematically inject yourself into the relationship, you leave success and happiness to chance.

So how do you step-up and make sure you are not rolling the dice when it comes to your success? Simply put, by implementing real, honest, and effective “touches” you can maintain your presence the way that you want it to be. These “touches” are small, short, targeted, and balanced communications that fill the relationship gap that will maintain and even grow trust, loyalty and commitment. Found in various forms, these individualized gems can be phone calls, text messages, video calls, written letters, cards, etc. And the frequency? This depends on each situation but I recommend 14 to 21 days as the sweet spot to offer the best balance.

Remember, to maximize your success, “touch” everyone regularly in a way that will positively inject your influence and not allow chance to control of the outcome.

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Steve Feyrer-Melk.


Steve Feyrer-Melk, MEd, PhD, is a powerful, passionate, and trusted authority in Lifestyle Medicine who is bringing an innovative, refreshing, and successful approach to proactive health care. Dr. Steve co-founded the Optimal Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center where he crafts and hones real-world programs for immediate impact. Dr. Steve also serves as the Chief Science Officer of Nudge, LLC, a lifestyle medical technology company.

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