New to Running: Is a Massage Right for You?

New to Running: Is a Massage Right for You?For many athletes, but especially runners and those that do long distance jogging alike, such strenuous exercise can have a serious toll on the body, from physical weakness to soreness, and even strains, sprains – or worse breakage. However, have no fear, as most if not all of these injuries can be prevented!

In fact, that’s exactly why a massage for runners can be so valuable. And, while it might sound silly or unusual, even the most professional, successful athletes can tell you and attest to regular messages being key to both performance and recovery. Getting a deep tissue or ‘sports massage’ regularly when physically active in sports can be very beneficial to both your physical and mental health.

One of the greatest benefits of a massage for runners is the positive impact it has on the overall cardiovascular and circular system. You see, how and when blood – with oxygen – and other nutrients is delivered throughout your body, into your muscles, will heavily dictate likelihood of performance, recovery time, and ability to do better the next time you go out there. Muscle tightness and range of motion will also be greatly improved over time with regular sports massages, but consistency is key.

A connected benefit to regular massages is that it can also help to motivate your body to more rapidly expel unwanted metabolic waste – and other unneeded acids. In fact, many pains, aches, and other soreness frequently associated with such waste can be eliminated, providing you with a smoother, and faster recovery. For athletes, especially bodybuilders, a message is likewise extremely variable. Similarly, that is, for its same muscle-restoring, strengthening, and injury-preventative properties.

Just know, and try to keep in mind that there are various types of massages – and masseuses- therefore it’s critical you ensure you are going to the right, licensed, and experienced sports masseuse or physical therapist that’s going to give you the right kind of deep tissue massage. When done correctly, it can also promote muscle repair and growth which means bigger, faster gains and performance.

Lastly, and this is often overlooked, but a regular massage for runners helps to ensure they are properly prepared or are ‘stretched out’ prior to any major race or competition. So, don’t ever underestimate the preventative value of a sports massage. Ideally, if possible, try to go with a licensed masseuse that is recommended by your physician or another massage specialist.

Remember, getting a massage doesn’t have to be every week – or even every two weeks for that matter. Depending on you and your current physical activity levels, it’s never too late to start getting regular sports massages.

NOTE: If you think you may already have an injury, have recently hurt yourself running, or during another physical sport or activity it is recommended that you first seek medical attention and care before getting a massage for runners.

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7 Amazing Benefits of Consuming More Ginger

7 Amazing Benefits of Consuming More GingerGinger-the humble rhizome that is believed to have been first used in the Indian subcontinent millenniums ago-is extensively used for spicing up a range of food preparations. This herbaceous perennial spice also touted to have numerous health benefits, has long been used as a folk medicine. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine are replete with different formulations of this rhizome that can help in dealing with various ailments.

And it is reassuring to hear that medical science is corroborating the curative properties of this herbal spice. You might be aware that ginger is extremely effective in tackling common cold and flu, promote digestion, and reduce muscle pain or soreness. But did you know that the spice is highly effective in dealing with motion sickness that results from voyaging on the sea, flying long hours, and driving for hours on mountainous or elevated routes?

Apart from seasickness or airsickness, the herb can be used for remedying bloating, headaches or pain caused due to PMS. Significantly enough, you can either use zests sliced from raw ginger or the powdery form for boosting your health. Surprisingly enough, you won’t have to consume large amounts of the spices for realizing the perks as imbibing simply 2gms (equivalent to a ¾ teaspoon in powdered form or 1 tablespoon in grated form) every day will suffice.

Following are 7 convincing reasons why you should start chewing or consuming this pungent-tasting herb or spice.

1. Ginger Can Help Alleviate Arthritic Pain

Dietitian Danielle Capalino who authored books such as ‘Flat Stomach’ and ‘Healthy Gut’ is strong of the opinion that ginger could go a long way in tackling inflammation and alleviating arthritic pain, especially in arthritis patients. She has found evidence for the above benefits as powerful anti-inflammatory agents called ‘gingerols’ found naturally in the herb can thwart the development of cytokines that are known to aggravate inflammation.

If a medical report (issued in Arthritis & Rheumatology) or study is to be believed, extracts of the spice had the potential of assuaging osteoarthritis symptoms in the knees.

2. Reinforces Immunity

Perhaps there’s not a single person in this whole wide world who never was under the weather owing to common cold or had an attack of flu. And this rhizome is one of the best natural substances that have been used for tackling this upper respiratory tract infection for a long time.  The sesquiterpenes in the herb are efficient in thwarting the thriving of rhinovirus (the virus responsible for causing the common cold). Throw 3-4 slices of ginger in your morning or evening tea if you want quick relief from nasal congestion. Loaded with antioxidants, ginger helps check pain and symptoms of fever.

3. Relieves Muscle Soreness

During your next trip to the gym, be sure to keep finely trimmed tests of the herb under your tongue. Studies and trials have increasingly evidenced that the spice which helped ease PMS pain and checked inflammation, could also soothe muscles that feel sore after a strenuous workout. According to a trial issued in the ‘Journal of Pain’, participants that imbibed two grams of the herb felt a noticeable alleviation in muscle soreness and pain resulting from strength building workouts just a day after vis-à-vis a placebo.

4. Sidelines and minimizes PMS Pain

Perhaps the most worthwhile health benefit that women and teenaged females can have from consuming the spice is relief from pain that predominates a menstrual cycle. As a matter of fact, it has been demonstrated that ginger is as effective as OTC medications in getting respite from PMS pain. In a study appearing in the ‘Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine’, it was reported that taking the herb was as good as swallowing an ibuprofen pill for dealing with the pain.

5. Thwarts Abdominal Bloating

Ginger not only reduces and checks nausea but also boosts digestion and prevents the abdomen from getting bloated or distended. The herb contains carminative agents that expedite the secretion of gastric juices for promoting digestion.

6. Hones Your Memory Skills

This wonder herb can be highly effective in bulwarking or cushion your brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s. The spice shields your brain from the sticky amyloid proteins that form a plaque thereby prolonging or putting off the disease progression.

7. Combating Migraines

Ginger plays a stellar role in thwarting the buildup of prostaglandin that is known to increase swelling of blood vessels giving you head-splitting migraines. Going by one study, the powdery form of the spice was equally efficient as sumatriptan for dealing with migraines.              

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Just A Little Exercise Goes A Long Way

Just A Little Exercise Goes A Long WayIn yet another recent study, scientists in the UK validated what had been discovered before, that just a little exercise is better for increasing life’s chances than no exercise at all.

Any fitness trainer and a cardio doctor will tell you the same. They see the results of those who got off their butts and did some form of exercise weekly. It’s due to the ability of the body to build up upon itself during exercise, replace and grow muscle, improve cardiovascular function, nerve tissue, and brain function. All these vital systems are essential for a full and vital life. If all you’re doing is sitting around watching television then you’re growing fat which is nothing more than stored excess calories and these fat deposits are like slow-acting poison, sapping life systems until the entire body becomes compromised and leads to illness, amputations, and death.

Diabetes II is in epidemic proportions around the world. It never used to be. People weren’t generally overweight on a massive scale until more development throughout the world increased. Now snacks and fat and sugar foods are found everywhere with little or no nutritional value. These foods are full of preservatives and who knows what else. Pesticides are rampant. If you don’t exercise, these chemicals build up and are found in long-term deposits in the body. It’s like having your own toxic dump from the chin down. You lose eyesight, brain function, sexual and reproductive function. You are weak and can’t defend yourself in a fight nor against disease and all you need to do to combat all this is just get up off your butt and walk for 30 minutes 2 to 3 times a week. Yes, walk! Swimming, jogging, tennis, basketball, even a rousing game of Twister can get those body fluids flowing and flush out toxins and burning off fat. Little by little you’ll see the changes in your life and having a doctor around to keep statistics means you’ll get professional analysis and lab work so you can submit that data to avoid prescriptions drugs or if you do have to take the, you’ll have been issued the right dosages the right way.

As with all exercise programs, consulting a doctor and nutritionist is paramount. Don’t try to do everything on your own and take your time. It’ll happen when it happens, so get on the good foot and get your exercise regimen in and live a long and fruitful life.`

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Benefits of Massage for Athletes

Benefits of Massage for AthletesMassage is an ancient art that continues to live on and grow in popularity as a type of alternative medicine used to promote wellness. The societal conception is primarily of massages as a method for relaxation, but a growing body of evidence shows that the effects go much deeper than just that. There are many different people who can benefit from regular massages, but one group in particular that can gain a lot of synergies from the soothing activity is athletes.

First of all, massages loosen our muscles and are akin to stretching in many ways. This leads to increased flexibility, which can be important for optimal performance and to reduce risk of injury. Massages should not replace stretching, but the two together likely have a greater impact of injury prevention and performance than either one alone. The stretching of muscle fibers is a big positive.

With the stretching, comes improved blood flow as vessels allow for increased blood to reach the massaged areas. Improved circulation can help with overall oxygenation of the body and can an impact on breathing as well. After the exercise, it can also have impacts on better recovery times. There is even some evidence that massages can help alleviate pain.

The relaxation effects of massages, especially deep tissue massages, can also help with improving sleep. Athletes can increase the quality and quantity of sleep, allowing them to better recharge for the next day and to rebuild their muscles are particularly strenuous outings. The relaxation itself has a great effect too of course. The stress relief is a big plus, especially in athletes who are particularly energetic or “type A”. Massages can help the body and mind relax, which is important for sustainability and optimal performance.

Because of the myriad of health benefits that massages have for athletes, the athletic massage market is expanding rapidly. Massage therapists are increasingly considering the arena (both literally and figuratively!) for their practice as more athletes look for that type of service. The locker rooms of professional sports places are full of massage therapists and this is only bound to expand to lower levels of sport. Athletes increasingly understand the importance of keeping their bodies well-conditioned and the role massages can play in that need. It will be interesting to see where the market heads as this thought permeates the culture of various sports and at all different levels.

A deep tissue massage once a week can help athletes stay in tip-top shape and perform better both physically and mentally. Massage therapists specializing in athletes can be found online or in the phone book. There are many different options and you should do your time on research to make sure you find the right fit for you. It is also possible that your gym or doctor has a recommendation which might work for you. It is all about doing some research, giving it a try, and deciding from there whether they are a good long term option. It could make the difference between a win and a loss.

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Massages Can Relieve Stress

Massages Can Relieve StressStress is a natural reaction to situations which our mind perceives to be dangerous or that require a level of high alert. It is a protection mechanism that is necessary at times but sometimes gets overplayed in the modern world due to excessive stress alerts. This makes it necessary to ensure we get adequate stress relief to mitigate the effects of too much stress- namely cardiac or mental health issues. Amongst these include a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, substance abuse issues, anxiety, sadness or anger, or physical changes to the body including changes in sex drive, sleep, and even body composition with increased fat being linked to high levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. It is important to manage your life and your stress so that these risks are mitigated as best as possible because no one wants to deal with these comorbidities and conditions. Thankfully, there are many different forms of stress relief out there- everything from meditation to exercising to getting massages and it is really a matter of trying different things out to see what works best for you.

The latter, getting a massage, is especially growing in popularity right now. Many people seem to find that it just helps their worries seep away as they almost travel to another world for that half hour or hour session. Looking at the specific downstream effects of excessive stress, there are many case studies which suggest that massages can help alleviate those issues, making it a logical option at combatting stress given the fantastic safety profile. There have also been scientific studies which have shown associations with massages and reduced heart rates and blood pressure. Some studies have even shown increased endorphin levels after massages, which may be causing the positive feeling people get after receiving one. Massages are certainly on the upward trend right now, but they should not be your only form of stress management.

It should be noted that the best thing for stress is likely a combination of many things. It is important to eat right, exercise, and take care of your body in order for it to function properly and for stress to be minimized. Massages may be an add-on to those other activities as may meditation too. Stress relief has great potency in improving your life beyond just your health, though. It can help increase vitality and improve your state of mind.

If you think you are interested in trying out massages, the next question is where do you go to get a quality one? There are now many retail outlets at which you can get professional massage services including Massage Envy, which is one of the most popular chains. There are also many local masseuses who can offer custom services to their clients including home visits, etc. Just be sure to do your research on the massage service to make sure that they are a legitimate business with certified professionals. Once you find someone you like you can stick with them and continue to fight back the never-ending onslaught of stress!

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Therapeutic Massage and Blood Circulation

Therapeutic Massage and Blood CirculationA new study by a group at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) shows that massages can help increase blood flow and reduce muscle soreness after exercising. The study, printed in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, also showed improvements in people who had not exercised in terms of blood flow. These two findings continue to support a hypothesis on the value of massages for people of all activity levels and vascular health.

Advocates of massages have long touted the circulate and muscle benefits of getting massages. Many professional athletes buy into these claims and get regular massages, especially after big games or events. At the same time, no major randomized controlled trial has been conducted due to the high costs associated with that type of gold-standard study. Instead, we have a growing body of cheaper and smaller studies including this one by UIC. Over time, it is possible the evidence level builds up to really support more interventional massages as part of routine care.

This new study helps validate that potential message by using patient-centric outcomes. Study participants were asked to do leg presses until they felt sore. One cohort received massages after this, while the other cohort did not. Soreness was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 both right after the exercise and after 24 hours. The massage cohort reported no continuing soreness even 90 minutes after the massage, whereas the other group still had soreness 24 hours after the exercise. Brachial artery flow mediated dilation (FMD) was also measured in the upper arm at 90 minutes after exercise as well as 1, 2, and 3 days afterward. FMD improved for both groups over time, as expected, but the exercise-only group lagged in return to normalcy, suggesting that there is a physiological mechanism behind the results and not only a placebo effect. The FMD results also suggest a systemic effect since the readings were from the arm and the exercise was in the legs.

While more robust and larger randomized clinical trials will be needed to further quantify the effects of massage, the early data certainly suggest that there is a benefit. And either way, we know there are not any major safety issues with getting massages for most people, so that makes it an okay thing to try for those who may believe it could help so long as the cost justifies the potential upside. Specific studies on cost effectiveness may be able to further delineate this latter point and could eventually increase access to massages if insurance companies and other payers start to see the value in them and are willing to pay for them. Provider referrals would likely be required in these cases, so the medical body of evidence also needs to grow, but as of now, there is not much holding that back other than the issues of cost when it comes to running large studies to confirm physiological and medical effects. It will be interesting to see how the impact of a massage on blood circulation develops over time.

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Health Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Health Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is growing in popularity as people around the world discover its utility in improving physiological wellness. The technique consists of deep pressure from the fingers and slow strokes that affect the deeper layers of muscle that traditional massages may not have much impact upon. There is a growing body of scientific literature that shows the clinical impact of deep tissue massages, including in patients suffering from certain disease states.

The University of Maryland Medical Center uses the technique in some patients with chronic pain, reporting favorable results without the side effects and abuse risks associated with opioid medications. The thinking is that the massages may be improving blood flow to the muscles, allowing for a reduction in inflammation and pain. They may also help in reducing muscle tension which can be a source of discomfort in those suffering from chronic pain.

Beyond pain and inflammation, massages are culturally known to be relaxing and for good reason. They can help reduce stress as one completely relaxes and lets it all go during a session. Many people report getting regular massages in order to keep stress levels low and this often ends up correlating with important physiological markers including blood pressure. Studies have supported this with evidence- those who meditate and get massages tend to have lower blood pressures (or the same patients have blood pressure reduction before and after the fact).

Deep tissue massages may also allow for better circulation of the blood, which has numerous downstream effects. This includes better healing as the body can more efficiently transport needed resources to the site of injury and transversely, get rid of waste products. This can go well beyond the time of initial injury as the process is still vitally important to getting rid of scar tissue. The particular mechanism may involve the lymphatic circulation. The benefits in this regard are recognized in some patients who undergo major surgery and go on massage regimens afterwards in order to quicken the recovery process.

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What is Chinese Cupping?

What is Chinese Cupping?

The Olympics have now ended and another global event of fanfare and record-breaking is now in the books. While the games may have ended, one thing is still on everyone’s mind: what is cupping? The 2016 Summer Olympics made the practice famous as viewers and fans noted large circular discolorations on many of their favorite athletes’ bodies. Cupping took the Olympics by storm this year, particularly in swimming, but the practice is actually much older than these Olympics.

Cupping because in 300 AD in a book by a Taoist herbalist describing a number of “prescriptions for emergencies”. It referred to the use of bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin (today’s athletes likely used small glass cups instead). A practitioner can create the suction from the cups by lighting rubbing alcohol under the cup on fire and place it against the skin (the fire burns the alcohol but the change in temperature allows for a suction effect). This does not burn the skin, but just creates the suction effect.

Once the suction takes effect, the cup can be moved across the skin. This causes the muscle layer to slightly come up as the cup moves and creates upward pressure on the skin (as opposed to a massage which does the opposite). It often leads to a relaxing sensation, which is why so many athletes like it. The cups can be left on the skin for ten minutes or so once the suction starts as the patient relaxes.

The idea is that the movement of the muscle and the relaxation leads to increased blood flow and potentially better healing or function- similar ideas as those in support of massages. Some users like to combine cupping with other methods including massaging. For those especially inclined to eastern medicine, acupuncture is another popular option. Both acupuncture and cupping follow the lines of the meridians on the body as it strives to open certain ‘channels’ within the body.

While cupping was tremendously popular in the 2016 games, it continues to have its skeptics as do many forms of ancient healing. Medical professionals note the lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of cupping and attribute any benefit to perception or placebo. Athletes questioned on the matter did not seem to care, given the relatively low cost of the procedure and the impact the procedure had on their minds, which is a big part of competitive sports. Placebo effects may not be “real” against a comparator, but they are still real in terms of physiological impact- there is no doubt about that. If the swimmers actually felt it helped and experienced the placebo effect, then in turn their performance was enhanced as a result as well and one may argue that it was worth it. Nonetheless, more literature on the topic will likely emerge after the practice took the nation by storm this season. It will be interesting to see how the tactic of cupping holds up with time and in the face of new evidence.

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Can Massage Relieve Pain?

Can Massage Relieve Pain?Massages are growing in popularity amongst people with a number of ailments or those who just want a better way to relax. A key question surrounding the efficacy of massages is, “Can Massage Relieve Pain?” For millions of people who suffer from chronic pain and for whom pain relievers are ineffective or high risk, options like massage may provide a good alternative to controlling their pain. Massage can help relax people, while reducing stress and relieving pain.

A recent systematic review in Pain Medicine substantiates these claims. By pooling 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies, the review found that message therapy was superior to placebo in ailing pain. It also had the added benefit of a favorable safety profile which was very low in side effects (particularly in comparison to pharmacotherapy). There seem to be multiple mechanisms via which massages improve biomechanical, physiological, and psychological wellbeing. It truly is a lost art, having originally been described by Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

A question that always persists with massage therapy is how long and how often patients need to get it in order to sustain the pain relieving effect. A study by a group of researchers in Seattle looked at this research question and found that those who got massages for 60 minutes two or three times a week had the best results followed by those who have 30 minute massages of the same frequency which was better than no massages at all. If you try massage therapy and do not witness results, it may be time to consider increasing the frequency as that seems to make a difference. A massage therapist can likely help any individualized questions you may have regarding a regular regimen.

The effectiveness of massages has led even many traditional sites of care to start to adopt them. A survey by the American Hospital association found that 82% of hospitals offered massages to patients depending on what they were in for. The majority of these cases were used in order to help with pain relief.

Given the favorable risk-benefit profile of massage therapy and the comparable profile of prescription medications, it is a wonder that the massage trend did not take off earlier. As the United States faces an opioid addiction epidemic, massages are likely to continue to grow in favor with both patients and providers. Given the damage that drugs can do, it may well become first line therapy in time.

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Himalayan Salt Stones Massage

Himalayan Salt Stones MassageThe Himalayan salt stones are great tools that will reduce tension, stress and relieve pain and inflammation. Himalayan Salt has 84 minerals and nutrients that naturally occur in our bodies. Through osmosis these nutrients naturally enter the body to activate your natural healing mechanisms allowing your body to restore its natural balance. Depending on how it’s applied, those minerals absorb into the skin balancing the body’s PH, aiding proper metabolism, helping with gastrointestinal issues, improving circulation and respiratory issues, and many other health benefits.

This salt is of the highest quality. These salt stones can be heated on a heating pad to create a radiant heat that penetrates deep into sore, achy muscles. The heat coupled with the nutrients causes the body to release toxins that may be blocking the blood flow in that area.

Because the skin is the largest organ and absorbs minerals as well as toxins, there is enormous benefit in using the salt stones over river stones. The magnesium within it helps to relax muscles and melt tension, and the other 84+ minerals and trace elements are beneficially absorbed to alkalize, gently draw out toxins. And because of the pure salt, it draws moisture to the upper layers of the skin, plumping and moisturizing, leaving the skin smooth and exfoliated.

By adding Himalayan salt rocks to any massage session, the client get additional heat to allow the organic trace minerals to penetrate into the skin and body, which in turn balances the client’s central nervous system.

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