Health

Benefits of Couples Massaging Each Other

Benefits of Couples Massaging Each OtherThere is a large body of articles and various forms of evidence which support the mental and physical benefits of getting massages. The vast majority of these focus on the benefits of receiving a massage, however, a new study suggests that for couples, massaging your partner can have a positive effect for the massager as well as the partner getting the massage. The study from Northumbria University in the UK studied couples over three weeks and found that both giving and receiving them led to reduced stress and increased feelings of wellbeing for both partners.

The popularity of massages continues to grow worldwide with almost one in five getting massages in 2016 in the United States. Of these, about half said it helped alleviate some sort of pain and improved wellness or helped with other issues. About a quarter said it reduced stress too. The majority of these respondents likely got their massages from professionals because that is the typical thing to do with almost 62% of massages getting done at spas, massage parlors, or a physical therapist’s office. This new finding offers perhaps a better way to get massages if both partners are willing. It can be financially beneficial compared to getting them from others and it may also improve intimacy. Learning to properly massage may be a good investment for couples interested in this sort of thing.

Further research should be conducted to verify the findings of this study, which looked at 38 people in 19 couples over 3 weeks. It will be interesting to see if this also extends to non-couples, or whether it is something about the relationship that might be driving the mutual benefits. This is plausible given that couples typically want their partner to be happy and feel good, so seeing them that way may, in turn, help them feel better and happier as well.

This study is the latest in a wide body of new studies which have looked at massages and their impacts in various scenarios from a scientific standpoint. Other studies have looked at things like recovering from athletic events, improvements in mental function, changes in blood flow, and injury recovery time after massages. Larger randomized controlled trials should be conducted in order to verify these results before prescribing them widely in medical practice, but the safety profile is good enough for most people that they can likely get massages (or now give them) and see if they notice a benefit in themselves. It is always optimal to talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you want to see whether massages can have a clinical impact on you if this is possible (although you probably do not need to schedule a special meeting for that unless you have some other condition that makes that a good idea). Massages are growing in popularity for a reason and the trend is likely to continue as research such as this one support the use and as a culture in general starts to better value wellbeing, relaxation, and meditation.

Picture Credit: osteoclinic

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Eat Avocadoes Daily To Reduce the Risk of Being Diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome

Eat Avocadoes Daily To Reduce the Risk of Being Diagnosed with Metabolic SyndromeDo you go weak in the knees when you spot someone snacking on a meal of ‘mashed avocados seasoned with bell peppers, tomatoes, and chopped onions’ better known as guacamole?  If you do, then you’re in good luck as a fresh evaluation of scientific reports pinpoints that feasting on avocados may help in delaying and reducing the risks of ‘metabolic syndrome’. Metabolic syndrome is being touted as the ‘new silent killer’ and can be a major impediment to healthy living.

You’re said to be suffering from ‘metabolic syndrome’ if you’re hypertensive, have a large girth, and your triglyceride level is abnormally high. The peer review which was issued in ‘Phytotherapy Research’-a leading medical journal was carried out by Iranian scientists. These researchers meticulously sifted through 129 studies published earlier that evaluated the impacts of consuming avocado on various aspects related to metabolic syndrome.

A majority of the trials focused on the flesh of avocado the section of the fruit that we generally consume but quite a few were dedicated to its leaves, seeds, oil, and skin. The researchers came to a conclusion that eating avocados contributed hugely towards maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Biting into avocados on a regular basis helps contain bad or ‘LDL cholesterol’, and raise ‘HDL cholesterol’ level as well as regulate the proportion of phospholipids and triglycerides in the bloodstream.

The Iranian researchers also believed gorging on avocados led to numerous other health benefits. Avocados could go a long way in accelerating weight loss and help bring down high blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. The antithrombotic, cardioprotective, and anti-atherosclerotic properties of the fruit were also observed in numerous trials.

Simply put, the researchers overwhelmingly agreed avocados were incredibly effective in dealing with metabolic syndrome in a comprehensive manner. Cynthia Sass RD, MPH who regularly posts nutrition articles to ‘Health’ journal opined that ‘this is just yet another study to show that avocados truly deserve superfood status’. She went on to express avocados were extremely instrumental in touching belly fat considered as the most unhealthy and harmful kind of fat.

Another important finding of the research hinted that individuals who included avocados in everyday diets were more prone to weight loss compared to those who didn’t. Avocados also abound in minerals, fibers, vitamins, and antioxidants besides being richly endowed with fats that were beneficial for the heart. Also, our bodies can assimilate nutrients from the fruit better than supplements and medications.

Avocado is a super delicious and juicy fruit that is best consumed raw. However, there are plenty other ways in which you can eat the fruit. Avocados are used for rustling up mouthwatering guacamoles as well as go as an ingredient in salads and omelets. Whisk a glass of smoothie or concoct a glass of Indonesian-styled milkshake or spread a paste of the fruit in toasts or tortilla chips. The fruit also serves as an excellent substitute for butter when baking cakes and biscuits. Eat an avocado a day for keeping ‘metabolic syndrome’ at bay.

Picture Credit: silverstylus

 

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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.

Image Credit: skeeze

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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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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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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.

Image credit: Sylvain Robin

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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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The Benefits Of Aromatherapy

The Benefits Of AromatherapyIt’s been said for years that aromatherapy does wonders for people.  It’s still up in the air as to what clinical science says about the therapeutic benefits, but there are millions of people who swear by it.

Aromatherapy is based on the notion that certain aromas and scents, when delivered in a special way, can trigger healing properties.  The claims of success are numerous and one can find aromatherapy spas and websites all over.

The basics are that essential oils derived from certain plants, herbs, and such when treated with heat or just presented to the olfactory senses can produce strong healing rejuvenating results.  They’ve been used for countless centuries by cultures throughout the world.  The human sense of smell and taste can detect around 10,000 different scents and the effects on the brain are being qualified now in labs around the world.  It’s already documented that the memory centers of the brain can be triggered immensely by smell alone.  Aromatherapy then uses the limbic system,the collective name for structures in the brain involved in emotion, motivation, and emotional association with memory, to produce positive results.  When done correctly, a sense of well being and healing occur.

Claims such as better skin, eyesight, relief from chronic pain, better memory, and just about every malady we can list can benefit from aromatherapy.  For people who are stressed out, aromatherapy is considered one of the best remedies available.  In regards to scents that we found soothing as children and are no longer in our environment, when presented via aromatherapy can trigger a tsunami of great feelings and memories.  It’s no doubt whatsoever that aroma therapy does something but it will take more study to qualify and quantify.

As more people are treated the results will come in regarding aromatherapy.  The plants and herbs from where the essential oils are derived are available easily and it takes a good practitioner of aromatherapy to bring about the right results.  We know mood can affect our bodies drastically.  Mind over matter, one might say.  If a scent can trigger the right responses from the body like increasing the immune system’s defenses or relieving chronic headaches, acne, blood flow, then all the better.  Just the aroma and scent of an oil that can affect the olfactory centers and produce certain chemical responses to the body.

Considering how old this therapy is, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Ashiatsu massage, its techniques and benefits

Ashiatsu massage, its techniques and benefitsWhile the Ashiatsu massage had been confined within the countries of Hawaii, Fiji, Japan, China, Thailand, Tonga, and India for more than three thousand years, it has grown in popularity in the present times. It has become popular on a global scale. Ashiatsu had been a homely practice for long time where family members massaged each other with feet on the mat or floor. It is now being practiced on the massage tables and studios. The original style was not as structured and the family members got creative and tried new and improved methods when they offered the massage. They brought new techniques and procedures into the Ashiatsu massage.

When Ashiatsu has just stepped out into the greater world, the massage therapists and practitioners seemed to have more interest in energy or Chi, rather than in comforting and easing muscle pains. According to traditional Ashiatsu,  people follow yin meridians’ flow coming from earth and yang meridians’ flow coming from heaven. The main focus is directed on the energy map of the body in the massage therapy. This is the reason why Ashiatsu was not originally considered a massage form. Rather, it was considered an art of healing that passed down the generations.

There are a number of benefits offered by Ashiatsu. This massage treatment induces deep relaxation and relieves stress. The massage also helps to free the tightened muscles and also stimulate the self healing abilities and immunity of the body.  The practitioners offer such massage which keeps the clients feeling stimulated and refreshed. The massage therapy is useful for athletic maintenance and for sports preparation too. This is because the treatment stretches and enlarges the large muscles. When the therapy is offered for a greater time or in a greater detail, it is able to warm up large muscles. The massage is especially effective on those that are muscular. However, there are no such restrictions or specified body types for receiving the Ashiatsu massage.

Ashiatsu is a deep massage of the tissues which gives the feeling of a quality workout and leaves them feeling relaxed and refreshed. Ideally, the Ashiatsu massage takes at least an hour, so that the therapist get enough time to massage the large muscles thoroughly with feet. The smaller muscles are massaged with hands.

The Ashiatsu massage offers other benefits, which include  reduction of stress, relieving the tight muscles, deep relaxation, and stimulation of the self healing abilities of the body. The massage requires the therapist to stand on the body of the person receiving the massage and move about on the body. There are overhead bars to facilitate a better distribution of weight. They use their feet in varied ways to control the weight exerted on different areas of the body. In general, feet are used to offer compression strokes to the larger muscles at the top and back of the legs.

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