Hot Stone Massage - by admin@mcb on September 27 2015

Hot Stone Massage

Now that fall is upon us and the weather is starting to cool off again, hot stone massage is coming back into season. There is nothing like a nice, hot stone massage to warm up a client when the fall and winter chill is in the air.

History of Hot Stone Massage

The use of hot stones in massage and medicine dates back 5,000 years to India, as part of Ayervedic medicine. In more modern times, Native American healers from the desert of Arizona would gather rocks from rivers and warm them in hot coals, wrapping them in a cloth and placing them on the body. This would lead to the immediate onset of the relaxation process, relieving muscle pain and discomfort.

Benefits of Hot Stone Massage

By placing hot stones on key points on the body, the massage therapist creates a warm comfort zone. The deep direct heat relaxes muscles, allowing greater manipulation than a regular massage.

Hot stones expand blood vessels, pushing blood and waste materials through the body. This has a sedative effect on the nervous system which leads to relief of chronic pain, and induces a deep relaxation, which is useful in stress reduction. Circulation is increased, arthritis conditions alleviated, back pain reduced, tension and anxiety reduced, and insomnia relieved.

Online Training for Hot Stone Massage

If you have ever considered incorporating hot stone massage into your practice, the Institute of Somatic Therapy offers an excellent introductory course. This online continuing education course is a 10 CE (hour) course valid for NCBTMB, ABMP, AMTA, and most states. You will learn to provide a basic hot stone full body massage, plus cap it off with a bonus cold stone face massage. You will study the techniques, as well as contraindications, sanitation and safety.

The course tuition is $109 if done online and $145 if done by mail. As our fall special, from now through October 31, 2015, you will receive 10% off either the online or mail format of the course by using STONE as a coupon code. To enroll, or learn more about this course, click here.

Reflexology in PMS, Infertility, Pregnancy and Labor - by admin@mcb on September 23 2015

Reflexology in PMS, Infertility, Pregnancy and Labor

The use of reflexology has been studied extensively using scientific methods, showing that it is an effective therapy for a wide variety of conditions. This includes the arena of women’s healthcare, where reflexology has been proven effective for everything from PMS to infertility to pregnancy to labor and delivery.

Reflexology in PMS and Infertility:

One study showed that reflexology targeting PMS symptoms reduced those symptoms by at least 30% for the majority of the participants (83%), while just under one-fourth of the control group experienced a similar decrease of symptoms.

A small Chinese study on four infertile women showed promise that reflexology could help achieve pregnancy, as all four women in the study became pregnant after six to nine courses of treatment.

Reflexology in Pregnancy and Labor:

During pregnancy, studies have shown that there was no greater incidence of onset of labor in the test group than in the control group. This shows that reflexology did not bring on premature labor.

Studies  in labor have shown a positive correlation between reflexology and pain reduction during childbirth. In one study, 68 women chose to receive reflexology as their only method of pain control, without receiving any type of drugs. Of those women, 89% reported that their pain was reduced.

Length of labor was also positively affected. A typical textbook first stage labor is 16 – 24 hours, and second stage is 1 – 2 hours. The women in a reflexology study averaged a first stage of 5 hours, and a second stage of 16 minutes, which is a significant result.

For More Information:

To learn how to perform reflexology, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a 16 CE massage therapy continuing education course titled Foot and Hand Reflexology.

We also offer a 4 CE research course  Research on Reflexology.  You will study in detail of all the above mentioned research, as well as many other scientific studies showing the value of reflexology in a wide variety of conditions.

Both of these massage therapy continuing education courses are valid for NCBTMB, AMTA, ABMP, and most states.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy also has massage CE courses devoted to infertility, pregnancy massage, and labor and delivery support. Please visit our website for a full list of our course offerings.

Pregnancy Massage Aromatherapy - by admin@mcb on September 16 2015

Pregnancy Massage Aromatherapy

Massage therapists performing pregnancy massage should use caution with aromatherapy, as many essential oils are considered contraindicated for prenatal massage clients. As such, therapists should err on the side of caution in using essential oils with their pregnant clients.

When researching various oils, it is not uncommon to see some sources list a particular oil as contraindicated in pregnancy, while other sources consider that same oil safe for prenatal use. If there is any question, you should substitute known safe oils if possible. If there is no suitable substitute, use a very small amount and remain alert to any possible adverse effects.

improving your massage therapy business
Source: Freedigitalphotos

An alternative is to consider the use of a floral hydrosol. Hydrosols are the water byproduct of the essential oil extraction process. As such, a hydrosol will have a more gentle effect than the essential oil from the same plant.

When using essential oils during prenatal massage, some points to keep in mind are:

  • Essential oils should be used only if the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks.
  • The use of aromatherapy should be omitted entirely if the pregnancy is high risk or any contraindications are present.
  • Your client’s heightened sense of smell and possibility of nausea are to be considered when using essential oils during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Allow your pregnant client to sniff the oil to make sure that she finds it pleasant before diffusing it into the room or using it on her body.
  • A single oil is preferable to a customized blend, especially if the massage therapist has not taken extensive aromatherapy training and learned how to properly blend oils based on both their note (intensity and duration of scent) and type (effects such as balancing or stimulating). An exception to this might be a formula pre-blended by the oil manufacturer.
  • In general, all essential oils used in pregnancy massage should be diluted by 50%. For example, if you typically use 15 – 20 drops of oil per ounce of massage lotion, reduce that to 7 – 10 drops per ounce for your pregnant clients.

For more information on the use of essential oils during pregnancy massage, the Institute of Somatic Therapy offers online massage therapy continuing education courses in aromatherapy and prenatal massage.

To see details about our online continuing education course in aromatherapy, click here.

To see details about our online continuing education course in prenatal massage certification, click here.

Helping a Colicky Baby Through Infant Massage - by admin@mcb on September 08 2015

Helping a Colicky Baby Through Infant Massage

Learn more about the benefits of massage for both infants and their parents. Source: Pixabay
Learn more about the benefits of massage for both infants and their parents. Source: Pixabay

Colic is defined as a spasm in a hollow or tubular soft organ accompanied by pain. With infants, this is generally in the digestive tract. As such, the parent of a colicky baby can bring relief to their unhappy baby by performing gentle massage along the abdomen, in the direction of digestion.

A technique that can follow the massage is the “5 S’s”, developed by Professor Harvey Karp, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. The five s’s stand for: Swaddle, Side (or Stomach), Sway (or Shake), Shush, and Suck.

Begin by swaddling your baby tightly in a receiving blanket, which helps to replicate the tightness of the womb. If you don’t know how to swaddle your baby, there are numerous videos and diagrams available online by searching “How to swaddle a baby.”

Once your baby has been swaddled, hold your baby close to your body with him lying on his side (either facing your body or with his back to your body). An alternate option is a “football carry” (holding the baby on its tummy over your forearm) since this puts gentle pressure on the abdominal organs, which might be helpful.

Next, gently sway back and forth (or use a gentle shaking bouncing motion), while making a shushing sound. If you are comfortable in allowing your baby to use a pacifier, allow him to suck on it as you go through this process. This routine has shown to relax even the fussiest babies.

To learn more about infant massage, Judith Koch, Director of Education at the Institute of Somatic Therapy, offers massage therapists the opportunity to earn the title of Certified Infant Massage Therapist/Instructor by taking our infant massage certification training. Massage therapists will learn how to teach new parents how to massage their babies, and can earn 16 massage continuing education credits (aka CEs) valid for the NCBTMB and most states.

This course is also open to non-massage therapists. Since you will be demonstrating the techniques on a doll and not actually massaging the baby, no massage license is required. As such, related professionals such as certified doulas, lactation consultants, or pediatric nurses are invited to take this course.

Is prenatal massage contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy? - by admin@mcb on September 03 2015

Is prenatal massage contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy?

My friend Rachel in her first trimester, holding her one year old son.
My friend Rachel in her first trimester, holding her one year old son.

Is prenatal massage contraindicated in the first trimester of pregnancy? This is a question that certified pregnancy massage therapists encounter quite a bit.

The first trimester is the first 13 weeks of the 40 week pregnancy cycle. The 40 week (280 day) cycle count actually begins on the first day of the last menstrual cycle. With that definition, a woman is considered two weeks pregnant when she ovulates, which is the time conception actually takes place. Then it is another two weeks before her next menstrual cycle is due to begin, so if she conceived, she is considered four weeks pregnant before she even knows that she is a day late on her next period.

That means that the first third of the first trimester has elapsed before most women even knows that they are pregnant. Not all women are perfectly regular on their cycles, or if they are not trying to conceive might not even be tracking the exact dates of their periods to suspect they are pregnant for another one or two weeks or more. Often women are about halfway into their first trimester before they know that they are pregnant. As hard to imagine as this may be, there have been cases of women at full term not knowing they were pregnant until they went into labor. If the client doesn’t know they are pregnant, then the pregnancy massage therapist obviously won’t know their client is pregnant either, but technically that massage would be considered a prenatal massage since the client is pregnant.

The biggest concern about prenatal massage is the possibility of inducing a spontaneous abortion. Common sense should dictate that if something as pleasurable as massage was abortion inducing, there would be no such thing as a surgical abortion industry. Why go have surgery when you could have a massage instead? Nothing done in the course of a standard massage has ever been shown to trigger a miscarriage in the first trimester. However, if a client does know that she is pregnant and is still in the first trimester (a time for which miscarriage is most likely to occur), it is reasonable for the prenatal massage therapist to err on the side of caution, for the peace of mind of the newly pregnant woman.

In our prenatal massage certification course, we advise our students to lighten any pressure on the low back and to omit all abdominal massage during the first trimester. We also advise our students to avoid any tapotement (percussion) or shiatsu (sustained pressure to various acupressure points), at least not to the points that relate to the reproductive system. Simply performing traditional effleurage and pettrisage massage strokes over these areas would not be enough to trigger any negative response from the acupressure points.

There is no evidence based rationale for considering the first trimester of pregnancy to be a contraindication for massage therapy. The same holds true for the second and third trimester. It is advisable, however, that massage therapists who plan to work on pregnant clients on a regular basis have specialized training. Pregnancy impacts every system of the body, each of which impacts massage. By taking an advanced continuing education course in prenatal massage, massage therapists are prepared to made adjustments for each of the changes taking place in the body of their pregnant massage clients.

If you have ever considered becoming certified as a prenatal massage therapist, we hope that you will consider the courses offered at Institute of Somatic Therapy. For more information on our pregnancy massage certification courses, click here.

(Special thanks to my friend Rachel for letting us use her photo. She used this photo to announce that she is pregnant with her second baby.)