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Prevent the Afternoon Slump

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM Comments comments (1251)
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2004.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

If you're like two-thirds of the population, you've experienced the afternoon slump. You know the feeling -- it's only 2 p.m., yet you feel drained and want to call it a day.

This drop in energy is not all in your head. It is a physiological response from your body. Fortunately, you can employ methods to reduce the slump's frequency and to shorten its duration. When you utilize these 10 tips, you will turn the afternoon slump into a time of increased

Drink water.
Your body uses water even if you're not exercising. If you wait until you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated and your physical and mental functioning may be impaired. Keep a water
bottle handy all day.

Avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates.
While a mid-afternoon candy bar may give you a quick sugar rush, it actually worsens the slump. Sugar and simple carbohydrates get absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. In response, your blood sugar rises, and your body secretes insulin to bring your sugar level back down. To avoid this, incorporate more proteins and complex carbohydrates into your diet, such as products made with whole wheat flour, brown rice, etc. They won't trigger blood sugar highs and lows.

Eat small meals.
Have six small meals over the course of the day instead of three large ones. When you eat a big meal in one sitting, it overwhelms your body and causes it to work harder to digest the food. As a result, the digestive process diverts blood away from your brain and extremities and uses it in the digestive track.

Evaluate your lighting.
Most offices are lit with cool, white fluorescent tubes which have a terrible effect on how people feel and function at work. A better option is full-spectrum, fluorescent tubes, as these simulate the wavelengths of sunlight.

Take time for walks.
Walking gets your blood circulating, helps you breathe better, and stimulates your brain due to the increased blood flow. Take a five- or 10-minute walk during the day.

Meditation is great for rejuvenating your body. By meditating for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day, you're keeping your body continually energized and rested.

Take your vitamins.
Several vitamins have an energizing effect on your body, such as B-complex and ginseng. You get the maximum benefit from your vitamins when you divide your dose and take them with separate meals.

Listen to music.
Music can energize you, but choose carefully. Some music can actually weaken your system and fatigue you. For example, hard rock can make you feel jittery. Upbeat music can get your body into a more upward stance.

Take time to breathe and stretch.
Deep breathing exercises give you an energy boost by introducing fresh air into your system. Equally important are standing up and stretching. You increase blood flow in your body and stimulate the lymphatic system.

Handle negativity.
Negative people and images can have a draining effect on your energy. Make a conscious effort to stay positive even when others are negative around you.

Jerry V. Teplitz, J.D., Ph.D., is the author of
Managing Your Stress: How To Relax and Enjoy, Switched-On Living and Brain Gym for Business.
Teplitz consults on management, leadership, sales, and personal development issues and specializes in showing people how they can become more positive, energized, focused, and effective. Contact him at 800/777-3529 or visit

Giving the Gift of Touch

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:29 PM Comments comments (1256)
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2004.
Copyright 2004. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Finding imaginative gifts that express sincere caring for friends and loved ones is always challenging. The gift of touch, offered through massage therapy, can be an unexpected surprise that is affordable and appropriate for so many occasions and types of people.

Half the fun in selecting this gift is fitting the unique massage to the specific event or individual. Besides the usual holidays and occasions -- Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, anniversaries, and birthdays -- a massage can be given for graduations, housewarmings, or bridal and baby showers, as well as employee recognition rewards, thank-you presents, and congratulation gifts.

Massage gift certificates are typically available in a variety of time increments or in a series of sessions, such as combinations of three to six massages suited to the specific circumstance or the recipient's needs. Possibilities for special massage gifts include a 10- to 15-minute chair massage, a 30-minute foot massage or focused therapeutic massage, a 60-minute pregnancy, postpartum, or sports massage, or a 90-minute full-body massage. The prices might range from $10 to $45 on the low end to several hundred dollars if you choose a series of sessions or an exclusive spa.

After fine-tuning your gift list, you need to find a qualified practitioner in the recipient's area. If you are looking for an independent practitioner, visit
and click on "
." If you are seeking a spa atmosphere, visit
and click on the spa finder icon. Both websites search by proximity to a desired ZIP code.

Many spas, and a significant number of massage therapists, have websites where gift certificates are sold. One advantage of reviewing websites is to see if any special package deals or discounts for purchase of multiple certificates are available. If the recipient is in your own community, personal experience and word-of-mouth referrals are effective methods for finding qualified therapists. Usually the purchase arrangements are only a telephone call away.

Gift certificates are usually mailed to the recipient by the massage therapist, but can also be mailed to you, if you wish. Most certificates have an expiration date of either six months or one year. Ask if you will be notified if the gift certificate is not used. In most cases, the certificates are nonrefundable, but they are most often transferable either to you or to another person. Be sure that the gift certificate comes with clear instructions on the process for redeeming the massage.

Massage is the gift of soothing and healing relaxation. In a world where stress is a prevalent health problem, massage can transport the gift recipient to a place of incredible calmness and well-being. Consequently, you are oftentimes thanked twice -- once when the person receives the certificate and again after the recipient basks in the massage.

Sharron Leonard is a staff writer for Body Sense magazine.

YuRock Massage

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:26 PM Comments comments (657)
Coming soon for 2012- A uniquely North West Oregon experience, YuRock Massage!
 -> Stay tuned for more details

Six Unspoken Questions About Massage Therapy

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:21 PM Comments comments (230)
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2008. Copyright 2008. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

You love massage. But you'd love it more if you had the answers to a few questions you've been shy about asking. Good news! This article will address those niggling questions you'd like to ask your massage therapist, but were afraid to ask.

I'm a bit uncomfortable taking everything off when I go for massage. Do I have to be completely naked to receive massage?
Some people go under the sheets without a stitch on, others wear underwear, and some people prefer to wear shorts, sweatpants, or even their regular street clothes. No, you don't have to take off more clothes than you are comfortable with to receive massage. Talk to your therapist and he or she will adapt to your needs. Be aware that wearing more clothes can interfere with the use of certain techniques, but there's no reason you can't enjoy receiving massage in casual clothes. Therapists won't be able to use lotion and may be unable to work as deeply, but they can adapt to your comfort level and still deliver a satisfying massage experience.

People who are self-conscious about their bodies might get massage more often, and with less apprehension, if they had the added underwear barrier. For some, it creates a psychological boundary that allows them to more fully relax during the massage, and that's okay, too. Rest assured, massage therapists work with all kinds of bodies, from the very young to the very old and all shapes and sizes in between. Massage therapists are a very caring and giving group. To be successful at what they do, they have to be. Your therapist strives to strike a balance between engaging with you as the complex individual you are, as well as seeing your body and all its unique qualities from a clinical perspective. Our work is about the careful application of techniques to your muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue as a means to enhance your whole being--not to judge you.

How do I talk to my massage therapist about money? I'd like to come more often, but it would be a financial hardship.
People would rather talk about their most embarrassing moments than talk about money. But if you feel your financial situation won't allow you to receive further treatment, make sure you've considered your options.

If you've already taken a look at your numbers and still come up short, check with your employer or insurance carrier to see if you might be covered for massage therapy. Many people have coverage, but don't know it. Conditions of acceptance for third-party reimbursement can vary because insurance coverage varies greatly. Conditions may include full or partial payment, limits on the conditions treated, a maximum number of allowed visits, or you may be required to get a doctor's referral.

No coverage? There are still lots of options to discuss. Rather than drop massage from your budget (and life) altogether, consider coming in for shorter sessions. Another possibility, if you have some flexibility with your schedule, is to ask your therapist for a spot on their standby list. Your therapist might consider a discount fee if you can pop in for a last-minute appointment. Just like the airlines, sometimes clients cancel. Therapists typically sell their talents in one-hour increments and might be willing to fill the spot so they don't have a hole in their workday.

Many therapists take credit cards and some will take postdated checks or a series of postdated checks to work out a payment plan. Some therapists have a sliding scale of fees depending on annual income and financial hardship, or they may accept coupons from bartering networks.

If you love massage and communicate to your therapist how much you value it, you might be able to work out an arrangement that's fair to all parties.

I'm never sure about gratuities for massage services. What should I tip?
Massage therapists working in spas don't usually receive the full fee charged for their services. They work on a percentage split with the spa owner or receive a salary. If you are visiting a spa, tipping is common (15-20 percent) and therapists may depend on tips for their income, just as restaurant servers do.

Your solo practitioner will likely appreciate tips as well, although not all massage settings accept tips (a doctor's office with a practitioner who offers massage, for example). Bottom line is, if you feel like tipping, offer. If you don't feel tipping is appropriate, don't.

What should I do when I feel ticklish on the massage table?
Some people are sensitive to particular techniques, which make them feel uncomfortable and want to giggle. If that happens, your therapist may use a broader stroke or deeper pressure so it doesn't tickle. In the unlikely event you're still way too ticklish with those variations, the therapist can skip that part of the body and concentrate on less sensitive areas. It's your massage, so you can withhold your consent for a particular area to be treated at any time and still receive a massage. Be sure to tell your therapist beforehand about any sensitive or particularly ticklish areas of your body so he or she can accommodate you more effectively.

Massage has to hurt to do any good, right?
This is a common misconception about massage. Delivering an effective massage is about technique over muscle. If it were all about muscle, massage therapists everywhere would be exhausted by noon and wouldn't come back to work tomorrow. Professional therapists don't work like cookie cutters, doing the same thing repeatedly and going to the same depth with every client, every time. We treat grandmothers with osteoporosis with much less pressure than a young athlete who prefers deep connective tissue work. Female therapists can work deeply, and even if your therapist is a large man, he can give a sensitive, light massage as well.

Massage does not have to hurt to help. You can gain therapeutic benefits from a relaxing massage, which doesn't hurt a bit, or you can seek out more aggressive treatment options, which can cause some discomfort. Trigger point therapy and friction are examples of techniques, which are briefly uncomfortable, but very helpful for many conditions. If you don't want heavy pressure, say so. Massage therapists want to help you. If you're wincing under the pressure and tightening up, that will work against the goals of massage, which is to invite your body to relax, reduce pain, increase well-being, and have long, supple muscles. Massage therapists aren't in the torture business. Let your therapist know what feels good and what doesn't. Recognize that your needs and pain threshold might change with each visit.

What if I get an erection during a massage?
It rarely occurs, but if it does, don't panic. Sometimes as a result of your nervous system going into relaxation mode (or because of certain medications) erections happen. Therapists know that this is a physiological reaction and will treat the situation accordingly. Usually your therapist will try to re-direct your attention with a shift in the focus of his or her work, maybe by altering pressure or moving to a different area of your body. Your unintended erection, and any embarrassment, will soon pass.

Any more unspoken questions for your therapist? Ask. Your honesty will strengthen your therapeutic bond with your caregiver and let you deepen your relaxation time and feeling of healing.

And that's what it's all about. You.

Robert Chute is a writer and massage therapist. This is his 14th year in practice.

6 Tips To Ward Off Parched Winter Skin

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:19 PM Comments comments (235)
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter Copyright 2008. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

When the weather outside is frightful, is your skin less than delightful? Unfortunately, dry winter skin is a common problem for most people, due to lower moisture levels outside and the drying effect of heating systems inside. If dryness, flaking, itching, cracking, and redness increase for your skin during the winter months, you're not alone. According to a November 2005 study published in Dermatology, seasonal outbreaks of eczema in the United States are prominent, with most patients presenting symptoms in the winter, especially in climates where indoor heating zaps all the humidity from the air.

Instead of covering up the problem with sweaters and scarves, keep skin healthy and radiant all year long using some simple steps.

Get Advice
First thing's first--even though most people's skin reacts poorly to the harsh conditions of winter, that doesn't mean all skin should be treated the same for seasonal dryness and itching. Everyone's skin and conditions vary. Seeking out the advice of a skin care professional will give you the right answers.

Typically, if you have chronically dry skin, the condition can get worse in the wintertime, if your skin is typically more oily, you will want to moisturize more during the colder months, but be careful not to over-moisturize with too oily a product.

To protect against harsh conditions, choose an oil-based moisturizer, but make sure the oil used in the product is noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn't clog pores. Avocado oil, primrose oil, or almond oil are all non-clogging, as is jojoba wax ester. "Jojoba wax ester has the unique property of being chemically similar to human sebum, so it's nonallergenic, doesn't clog pores, and is assimilated into the epidermis very easily," says Bob Butler, founder of Jojoba Company, based in Waldoboro, Maine. "It's a great emollient. You could add a couple drops of jojoba ester to your normal summertime moisturizer to turn it into a great wintertime protector."

To find out which wintertime skin regimen is best for you, talk to your esthetician and see what he or she recommends.

Consider Climate
Taking location into account is also an important part of winter skin care. Even though temperatures have dropped across the country, not all places are created equal when it comes to wintertime climates. If you live in an especially dry area, it's sure to get even dryer in the wintertime--think high altitude alpine environments or deserts. In overly dry areas like these, it's vital to use the right kind of moisturizer--one that doesn't contain humectants. "Humectants, when used in the right environment, work wonderfully. But they require moisture, and if there is none in the air, they have to take it from the skin. This is a big issue with people who live in dry climates because there is little moisture in the air," says Victoria Rayner, founder of skin care facilities in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., that provide esthetics training and esthetician licensing preparation. If you do not have oily skin, Rayner recommends using an occlusive product that will seal in moisture while in a dry environment. "An oil-based product is best in this situation," Rayner says.

Try Magical Masks
If your daily moisturizer isn't doing the trick, try a high-intensity hydration mask once a week. "Hydration masks are key to long-term results when addressing winter skin complaints," says Celia Lang, spa manager and licensed esthetician for Weleda North America, a natural skin care company based in Palisades, New York. "If you are not properly hydrated, then you can't expect skin cells to normalize or respond to a problem." Following a moisturizing cleanse, Lang suggests leaving a hydrating mask on the skin for at least 10 minutes and up to a half hour to allow the healing properties to fully penetrate the epidermis. Masks should be performed about once a month. For daily care, be sure to use a moisturizing day cream that contains sun block to prevent further sun damage and dryness.

Heal From The Inside Out
It's not just what we do on the outside that counts, but also what's happening inside our bodies that can affect skin health. According to Bev Maya, medical herbalist and owner of Maya Natural Health in Vancouver, British Columbia, elimination organs like the liver and kidneys play a key role in skin health, if these organs are not functioning at their best or are backed up with toxins, your skin can suffer.

According to Maya, certain herbs support efficient liver function in relation to skin problems, especially dandelion root, burdock root, blue flag root, and chickweed herb, which are especially good for itchy skin. For improved kidney function, which would result in the increased flow of urine to speed removal of water-soluble toxins from the body and provide necessary minerals for healthy skin, she suggests dandelion leaf and plantain herb. Useful lymphatic drainage herbs, which support healthy immune function and removal of toxins from the skin, are cleavers and red clover, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Finally, herbs to aid digestive function are slippery elm, which Maya says decreases inflammation of mucous membranes and skin, wild yam, which is also a strong anti-inflammatory, and marshmallow root which soothes irritated membranes and skin.

Give A Hand To Humidity
Another way to combat the drying effect of your heating system is to invest in a humidifier to bring moisture into your home. Placing several small humidifiers throughout the house will have the best effect, but even one placed by your bed and turned on while you sleep will create a noticeable difference. Plants will also increase the moisture content of the air surrounding them, so go green this winter with some houseplants.

Turn Down The Heat
Lowering the temperature of your showers and baths will help your skin survive the winter with fewer traumas. It turns out that the concentrated heat of a hot bath, shower, or hot tub session can actually rupture the lipid barriers in the skin, thereby reducing its moisture content. Instead, use warm water and stay in the shower for a shorter amount of time. A soothing, lukewarm bath with oatmeal and baking soda can also help combat dry, itchy skin.

Like the song goes, winter can be "the most wonderful time of the year!" Make sure it stays that way this season by treating your skin well and protecting it from some of winter's not-so-wonderful elements.

Christine Spehar is a California-based freelance writer.

Beat the Winter Blues

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 7:14 PM Comments comments (210)
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2004.
Copyright 2004. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Winter can be difficult for me. Do you have any ideas about how to ease the seasonal blues?

Just one fresh rose in a room can help ease winter's chill, according to Colorado bodyworker and aromatherapist Mary Kathleen Rose. "In the winter, when there's less light, there's a tendency for people to get a little depressed. One way to alleviate these "blues" is by integrating fresh flowers into your home. A couple of flowers or a stargazer lily in a bowl can make a difference. That ongoing connection with nature helps give us a feeling of hope for the spring.

"In the winter, I really like the infused oils that have an evergreen scent. An evergreen infused in a light olive oil reminds us that there are things that stay green throughout the winter and carry us through the season. Cut little boughs from your yard and add them to fresh flowers. Beeswax candles also give off a really nice scent -- very soft. Just their mellowness is comforting.

"Take advantage of the things you've gathered earlier in the year like dried roses. Dried lavender is wonderful. I always have a little basket of rose petals around.

"Remember that enjoying a massage in a nice atmosphere during the winter allows us to really appreciate this as a time of rest. As nature is at rest, so should we be."

Welcome to the Yu Massage Blog

Posted on October 3, 2011 at 12:31 AM Comments comments (203)
Welcome to the Yu Massage "blog", I look forward to letting you all know more about Yu Massage & Bodywork, promotions as well as continued information on the benefits of massage. I also encourage client feedback as well as questions from anyone interested in learning more about Yu Massage and therapeutic massage.