A few weeks ago, we were excited to announce the newest addition to our team, Erin Whitworth. With experience providing sports massage, deep tissue therapy, and prenatal massage, we knew she would bring some awesome knowledge and techniques to the table - literally. Since we’re still pretty excited about her joining Body of Work Wellness, I thought it would be great to interview her for our new blog series, “20 Questions with Lindsay”.
What made you decide on a career in massage therapy?
I wanted to become a massage therapist because I wanted to be able to work for myself, and help others at the same time. I have always been fascinated with the human body and how our muscles hold us all together.
How long have you lived in Oregon? Have you lived in any other states?
I have lived in Oregon for 3 years. I grew up in Idaho, moved to Montana, and then Washington.
Tell me three of your favorite restaurants in the area, and your go-to menu item from each.
Gin Thai - Green curry
Pho Gabo - Chicken Pho with lots of spice
Any Indian buffet.
What music do you enjoy listening to when you’re not giving a massage?
Dance mixes - anything upbeat to help me stay motivated.
Aside from being a Massage Therapist Extraordinaire, do you have any other hobbies or talents?
I was once a dental assistant, a wild-land firefighter (college years), and I love to refurbish old furniture.
What was the last good book you read, and why did you enjoy it?
The last thing I read was an acupressure book. I enjoy educational science books.
How do you usually spend your days off from work?
My days off are spent being a mom and working out.
What is your spirit animal and why?
A horse. I love them!
What is your perfect way to spend a rainy day in Oregon?
Snugged on the couch watching a movie with a big cup of coffee.
What is your favorite quote?
“You are where you are supposed to be, just breathe.”
What is your go-to karaoke song?
“Zombie” by The Cranberries.
Describe the perfect pizza.
The perfect pizza is made with simple, great ingredients. Pesto, Mozzarella, basil, and in an outdoor pizza oven.
What is your favorite kind of tea?
I love black tea with a little sugar.
What was the last TV show that you binge-watched?
I’m currently binge-watching This Is Us.
Tell me the corniest joke you know.
How do you make a Kleenex dance? Put a little boogie in it! (I got that one from my son)
Before you started studying massage therapy, what was your favorite subject in school?
Science - A&P.
Do you have a favorite stand-up comedian?
If you could pick any fashion fad to make a comeback, what would you choose?
MC Hammer pants!
What is your favorite vacation spot?
My dream vacation is in Olgiasca, Italy. This is where my family is from.
Finally, what is a weird/fun/little-known fact about you?
In high school, I was in FFA (Future Farmers of America).
So there you have it! Be sure to book an appointment with Erin soon - she is available Monday 9-2, Tuesday 8:30-1:30, and Thursday 8:30-12. And stay tuned for the next “20 Questions”!
Everyone wants a massage, but sometimes making it in to see your favorite massage therapist (hi there!) just isn’t feasible. It’s in those unexpected and inconvenient moments that knowing how to give your partner a pretty great massage yourself can make the difference between a rotten day and a better one. But of course, this hinges on one thing: do you know how to give a good massage? Giving an at-home massage is not that hard. Here are my favorite tips:
Use firm pressure, but not hard.
People get confused about pressure in two opposite ways. If your partner is smaller than you, you may have a tendency to use very light pressure. This is okay to a point (you probably won’t hurt anyone), but can be a little frustrating if your partner is tense or sore or, even worse, ticklish. On the other side are the people who come from the “no pain, no gain” school of massage. Don’t buy into this myth! Massage should be pleasant. If your partner has to tense their muscles and clench their jaw in order to get through your ministrations, it’s not helping.
There are absolutely occasions where someone might want a fast-paced, vigorous massage. But unless your partner is getting warmed up for a race or ballroom dancing competition, this is probably not one of them. You’re not going to miss some key muscle if you take your time. If you seem relaxed, your partner is going to relax too. So take a deep breath, put your hands out, and make each stroke last.
If you meet a bone, leave it alone.
There is one exception to the firm pressure rule, and that is bones. You don’t need to be an anatomist to recognize the ones that stick out, like knees, elbows, ribs, and spines. With little padding between them and the skin, these areas can be quick to bruise or feel painful. If you find your hands arriving at one of these bony landmarks (yes, that’s actually what massage therapists call them, it’s like reading a topographical map), you have two options: turn around and go back the way you came, or skim over them using gentle pressure and keep going with your massage on the other side.
Practice good body mechanics.
If massage shouldn’t be painful for your partner, it also shouldn’t be painful for you. If you are hunched over, if your wrists are bent at an awkward angle, if you are using your thumbs or fingers in ways they weren’t designed to work, you will end up regretting the day you ever offered to give a massage. Use bigger muscles in place of small ones whenever you can: use your back to provide pressure instead of your arms, and your arms instead of your fingers. Whenever possible, push instead of pulling. When you move to a new part of your partner’s body, adjust your entire position, not just your hand placement. It may feel strange at first, but imagine if you tried to shovel snow by standing in one place and using just your arms to move the shovel from one side of you to the other. If that image seems ridiculous, you already understand why proper body mechanics are so important.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Really, you probably don’t need to talk to a massage therapist to learn that open communication between you and your partner is key to anything you undertake together. But it’s especially true in a situation like a massage, where one of you is more vulnerable than the other. As the massage giver, it’s important that you check in regularly: How does this feel? Would you like more or less pressure? Do you remember whether I turned the oven off? (Okay, maybe not that one.) The same goes for communicating your own needs. If you are getting tired, or thirsty, or really need to leave for work, say something. Don’t leave your partner feeling guilty about enjoying a massage because you made a unilateral decision to sacrifice your needs for theirs.
Learn from the pros.
As with any skill, one of the best ways to learn to give a massage is by watching the people who are already great at it. Getting regular professional massage (hello again!) and taking a couples massage class are both helpful.
If you follow these guidelines, you’re going to be fine. If you can give a caring, relaxing massage without hurting your partner or yourself, you’re way ahead of the curve on this one. And if you feel like you need more than that … well, give us a call.
Cupping therapy has received a lot of attention lately as a tool used by several Olympic athletes. Did you know the massage therapists at Body of Work Wellness offer cupping therapy? Read on for more info!
Amber shares her own cupping experience:
Regular ( Compression based ) massage didn't give me any relief from my chronic back pain and headaches. The massage might feel good, although sometime it was just plain painful, but I would start to hurt again within a few hours. My massage instructor recommended cupping for me and I stayed late after class one day to receive my first treatment. It was like she took a straight jacket off my muscles that I didn't even know was there! I I knew I was hurting but I hadn't realized how hard I was working just to move around! With my new freedom of movement I realized how I had been fighting my own fascial tension. It wasn't a pain free transition, the cupping had been intense and I had been so toxic that I felt sick the next day or two as all the gunk that had been released worked it's way out of my system. For me the price was well worth it! I immediately sought out classes and have been practicing cupping for years with awesome results for my clients and myself. I am headache free and able to manage my back pain with occasional cupping. I tell my clients who have lost hope and have resigned themselves to being in pain to give this a try.
We saw cupping at the 2012 summer Olympics as well, but mostly with the Chinese team. It was dismissed at the time as one of those weird Chinese medicine things. ( although we have found evidence of cupping in many ancient cultures). I'm very excited to see Cupping gaining attention and credibility. If massage hasn't worked for you in the past, this modality is very different. Cupping works on creating space and movement instead of compressing muscles that are already tight and stuck. If you are in pain, please don't believe that you have to stay that way. Cupping may or may not be the answer but it's worth a try!
What is cupping?
Cupping is the application of glass or silicone cups, with either the use of a heat source or plain suction. The traditional way has been using flame to quickly burn the oxygen out of the cup to create a vacuum. It is then quickly applied to the skin, creating a suction that pulls the tissue into the cup. Modern designs in silicone or using hand pumps can negate the use of flame, although the suction can be less. Either static or moving cups can be used. Static cups are when the cups are applied, and left in one location on the skin. Moving cups is when lubrication is applied, and the cups are then glided on the skin. In either case, the physical benefits include increased circulation, pulling apart stuck layers of connective and muscle tissue, and a relaxation of tight muscles.
Does it hurt?
The application of the cups does not hurt. Sometimes the sudden suction as the cup grabs onto the skin can be slightly startling. However, as long as you have experienced deep tissue massage, you will be ready for cupping. Areas holding more tension or that have a large adhesion will be more sensitive, just as you would experience in deep tissue massage.
The dark purple circles that are synonymous with cupping are called “sha.” Contrary to what you might think, they are not bruises, but rather stagnated toxins, blood, lymph, etc. pulled to the surface, where capillaries can then properly dissipate them. They do not hurt, and often leave in within a couple days. However, on some people with light complexions they can stay longer. The more tension an area is holding, the darker the Sha will be. It’s common that as you continue to get treatment, the sha each time will be lighter, and clear faster.
Who should get cupping?
Everyone! The benefits are numerous, and once someone has tried it, they are usually a convert. Especially if you have areas of tension or adhesion that regular massage modalities are not benefitting to your satisfaction. Cupping is also helpful with digestion issues and stress. Unlike massage, cupping is also helpful with colds and pneumonia, although always check with your LMT before coming to an appointment sick.
The same precautions apply to cupping as deep tissue massage, so if you have been told you can’t have deep tissue than cupping wouldn’t be for you.
This blog is a combined effort of practitioners to keep you informed.